WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's campaign said Wednesday that jobs lost at a company managed by rival Mitt Romney counter his claims of being a job creator.
Huntsman's campaign and allies said Romney's venture capital firm oversaw more than 100 layoffs in New Hampshire while it eventually reaped millions in profits.
An Associated Press report this week found that The Holson Burnes Group, controlled by Romney's Bain Capital LLC, closed plants in New Hampshire and Gaffney, S.C., as it shipped other jobs overseas.
Former Claremont, N.H., Mayor Scott Pope – a Huntsman supporter – said Holson Burnes had told local officials the plant was closing in 2005 so it could expand operations in Mexico, long after Bain relinquished control of the company. But a bulk of Holson Burnes layoffs and furloughs occurred in the early 1990s under Bain's ownership.
The AP's review of financial and regulatory documents in the case of Holson Burnes contrasts with Romney's statements during the GOP presidential campaign about his success creating jobs in the private sector. It showed how Holson Burnes trimmed its work force by hundreds while Bain eventually earned a 20 percent return on its investment.
The economic fallout from Bain's decisions struck hardest in New Hampshire and South Carolina, early primary states that will shape the Republican race and Romney's White House prospects. Romney knows President Barack Obama and other Republican contenders will be picking apart his tenure at Bain.
"President Obama and his friends on the left are continuing their attacks on the free-enterprise system, and by attacking free enterprise they are willingly dividing Americans," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul told the AP in response. "Mitt Romney has a quarter-century of experience working with entrepreneurs and real businesses in the real economy."
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was spending the rest of the week touring New Hampshire by bus.