Ron Paul Defends Mitt Romney Against Opponents' Attacks

Paul admonishes Huntsman, Gingrich and Santorum for taking Romney quote out of context.

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The race in New Hampshire to watch is the one for second place, which might explain why Texas Congressman Ron Paul attacked his tier-two competitors and defended primary frontrunner Mitt Romney today.

Paul's campaign issued a statement this afternoon admonishing his opponents—former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Speaker Newt Gingrich—for using Romney's "I like to fire people" statement out of context to promote their own campaigns.

[See pictures of the GOP 2012 candidates on the campaign trail.]

Paul's campaign said Huntsman and the others are using "leftist tactics" to get ahead in the race.

"Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be President," National Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton wrote.

Romney sparked the controversy while answering a question about health care. Romney said he supported people's rights to chose their own insurance plans because it provided an incentive for insurance companies to provide quality services.

"It also means that if you don't like what they do, you can fire them," Romney said. "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."

The comment, which was even made into a ringtone by the Perry campaign, has dogged Romney in the final hours of the New Hampshire primary and reduced his lead in the polls from a more than 20 point lead over Ron Paul to just a 13 point lead. The Associated Press reported this morning that at an event, when Romney reached out to hold a supporter's baby, someone yelled "Are you going to fire the baby?"

The Paul campaign says that free enterprise should bring the GOP together not divide them.

"Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use 'gotcha' tactics to discredit us," Benton writes. "Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day, Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context."

Benton adds that Gingrich, Huntsman and Santorum are attacking Romney because it is the only way they can distinguish themselves from him.

"All three have disqualified themselves from the race for President of the United States," Benton stated. "First with their records, then with their inability access major state ballots, and finally with these desperate and deplorable tactics."

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