The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a rule against getting involved in presidential politics, but the influential lobby today came close to endorsing Mitt Romney.
Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the massive operation across Lafayette Square from the White House, lashed out at Romney's GOP critics, notably Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for attacking the former Massachusetts governor's work at Bain Capital, a buyout firm. [GOP Race Heats Up in the South.]
"I was very disappointed with the intramural carrying on within the Republican Party attacking somebody, one of the candidates, Romney, who has extraordinary business experience that in anybody's look at private equity would have to say he formed a great firm who had a pretty good track record," said Donohue after giving his organization's annual State of American Business address.
Donohue warned that all Gingrich and Perry were doing was giving ammo to President Obama's team to attack Romney with in the fall, presuming Romney wins the nomination.
Obviously irked, Donohue told reporters, "It's just been foolish to carry on that line of attack because they're not doing anything but setting up the ad base for their opponents."
Actually, it's already happened. As Donohue was talking, the Democratic National Committee dispatched a YouTube and press release slamming Bain, the private equity firm Romney chaired. "The premise of Mitt Romney's general election campaign is coming apart," said the DNC.
Defending private equity firms that sometimes have to close or shrink businesses they take over, Donohue said that "private equity is all about risk," adding that "this economy is about risk. If you don't take a risk, you can't have success."
As for the GOP front-runner, "We think Romney has had a pretty good track record. Perfect? Hell no, but damn good."
And, Donohue added, "Romney at least has experience beyond most of the candidates throughout both parties in terms having operated successfully in the global marketplace."