Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt… (Win McNamee/Getty Images )
Mitt Romney celebrated his victory in the New Hampshire GOP presidential primary with a warning to rivals to stop attacking his venture capitalist past.
“President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial,” Romney said in his prepared speech, which he delivered on a stage filled with family and supporters. “In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision.”
The statement was an obvious swipe at rivals like Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, who in recent days have gone on the attack, branding Romney as a heartless capitalist who put profits before people’s livelihoods when he ran the venture capital firm Bain Capital.
PHOTOS: New Hampshire voters head to the polls
Just this week, a so-called super PAC backing Gingrich announced plans to air television ads highlighting job losses at companies that were controlled by Bain. Huntsman said Romney was “unelectable” after a gaffe yesterday in which Romney said he enjoys being able to “fire people.” And Perry, campaigning in South Carolina on Tuesday morning, cast Romney as a greedy Wall Street “vulture” as he blasted Bain as being “all about how much money can we make, how quick can we make it, and then get out of town and find the next carcass to feed upon.”
It’s a message that was unlikely to resonate in New Hampshire, where Romney was operating on home turf and had a massive volunteer organization on the ground. But it may take hold in South Carolina.
Romney also had harsh words for Obama, whom he cast as a socialist who doesn’t understand how the economy works.
Read the full text of Romney’s remarks below.
Mitt Romney in Manchester, New Hampshire:
Thank you, New Hampshire! Tonight, we made history!
This state has always been a special place for our family. Ann and I made a home here and we’ve filled it with great memories of our children and grandchildren. And this Granite State moment is one we will always remember.
Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we go back to work.
We remember when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago.
He promised to bring people together.
He promised to change the broken system in Washington.
He promised to improve our nation.
Those were the days of lofty promises made by a hopeful candidate. Today, we are faced with the disappointing record of a failed President. The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t offered much hope.
The middle class has been crushed. Nearly 24 million of our fellow Americans are still out of work, struggling to find work, or have just stopped looking. The median income has dropped 10% in four years. Soldiers returning from the front lines are waiting in unemployment lines. Our debt is too high and our opportunities too few.
And this President wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, “It could be worse.”
It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse?
Of course not.
What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better.
That conviction guides our campaign. It has rallied millions of Americans in every corner of this country to our cause.
Over the last six months, I’ve listened to anxious voices in town meetings and visited with students and soldiers. In break rooms and living rooms, I’ve heard stories of families getting by on less, of carefully planned retirements now replaced by jobs at minimum wage. But even now, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, I’ve rarely heard a refrain of hopelessness.
Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times. We still believe in the hope, the promise, and the dream of America. We still believe in that shining city on a hill.
We know that the future of this country is better than 8 or 9% unemployment.
It is better than $15 trillion in debt.
It is better than the misguided policies and broken promises of the last three years – and the failed leadership of one man.
The President has run out of ideas. Now, he’s running out of excuses. And tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.