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How Mitt Romney's GOP foes are doing Obama's work for him (+video)

The Mitt Romney campaign will leave New Hampshire with new battle scars. It pains some Republicans to see their candidates going after one of their own, but it may not help Obama either.

By Staff writer / January 10, 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns on primary election day outside of a polling station at Webster School in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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PEMBROKE, N.H.

By all appearances, Mitt Romney is heading into a comfortable double-digit victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday.

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But the final days of New Hampshire haven’t been pretty for the former governor of Massachusetts. Mr. Romney has faced a barrage of attacks over his 20 years as a venture capitalist at Bain Capital, which included handing out lots of pink slips to workers. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry have both called Bain’s approach “looting.” The release of an unflattering movie trailer by a pro-Gingrich super PAC on Romney and Bain added to the onslaught.  

Romney did himself some damage, too, with an unfortunate choice of words at a campaign appearance Monday. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” he said, referring to the ability to dismiss health-insurance providers. Jon Huntsman (and the Democrats) ran with the first part of that sentence – Romney likes to fire people! – forcing the ex-governor off message and into explanation mode. Another comment, about past worries he’d get a pink slip himself, also required followup.

For President Obama, Romney’s rough patch may not be the biggest of blessings either. Team Obama had hoped to drop the Bain bomb on Romney after he had secured the nomination. But that may have been too much to hope for, given Bain is such a juicy target. Romney’s business experience, after all, is central to his pitch for the presidency. And with Romney’s primary opponents anxious to salvage their candidacies, attacking the front-runner is only natural.

Still, it pains some Republicans to see their candidates going after one of their own.

“I get what they’re trying to do, short term,” says Fergus Cullen, former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, who is backing Mr. Huntsman. But “I am not happy hearing Republicans making the arguments that the Democrats will make in the general election.”

When the campaign moves on Wednesday to South Carolina, host of the next primary, the anti-Bain barrage will only get worse. Fueled by a $3.4 million budget, the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future will release “When Mitt Romney Came to Town.”  The 27-minute documentary focuses on four families devastated by the restructuring of businesses by Bain, where Romney was CEO.

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