As we noted earlier, all the candidates today are in South Carolina, and it did not take long before the gloves came off. As Ron previewed earlier, the hardest punches came in relation to Mitt Romney's business ventures.
We've looked around for what the candidates are saying at their different campaign stops. Here's a roundup, which we'll add to as the candidates make more stops:
-- Newt Gingrich attacked Mitt Romney over his time at Bain Capital, which laid off workers and made money off of failed companies. The New York Times reports that despite calls from Rush Limbaugh to cool it on the Bain criticism, Gingrich instead broadened the assault at a campaign event in Rock Hill. Referencing Bain, he said "we have a right to know what happened when companies go bankrupt."
The Times reports:
"Mr. Gingrich presented himself here as a voice for middle-class Americans who want 'someone prepared to stand up to Washington and New York.'
" 'This is not anti-capitalism,' he insisted. 'That is the smokescreen of those who are afraid to be accountable.'
" 'I am for entrepreneurship,' he added, 'but I am also for the American people's right to understand how the games are being played: are they fair to the American people, or are the deals being cut on behalf of Wall Street institutions and very rich people.'"
-- Rick Perry, who placed last in New Hampshire, joined Gingrich in his criticism of Romney. The Los Angeles Times reports from Lexington:
" 'I get it about job creation,' Perry said, after saying Bain Capital had eliminated 150 jobs in Gaffney, S.C. 'I understand the difference between venture capital and vulture capitalism.'
"He took issue with charges from Romney and others that he was attacking capitalism. 'The idea that you come in and you destroy people's lives, the idea that you come in just to make a quick profit, tear these companies apart, I understand restructuring. I understand those types of things,' he said. 'But the idea that we can't criticize someone for these get-rich schemes is not appropriate from my perspective.'"
-- Mitt Romney, who has a campaign rally scheduled for 6 p.m. ET, countered the attacks from Perry and Gingrich on CNN.
"I understand that President Obama is going to try and put free enterprise on trial," he said. "But, you know, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich are going to be the witnesses for the prosecution. I'm not worried about that. They can take it as they like. But you saw last night that that approach didn't work very well for either Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich."
-- Ron Paul was "still buoyant" from his second-place finish in New Hampshire, reports USA Today. He told a crowd in West Columbia that he would continue to make the case "for the cause of liberty."
On CBS' This Morning, adds USA Today, he also made the case that he was indeed electable:
" 'I've been electable. I've won 12 elections already,' the Texas congressman said on CBS' This Morning. 'It's amazing that I do so much better than those other candidates that are all electable. They're in fourth, fifth and sixth place, but they're all electable. But I come in second or third and all of a sudden people say, "Oh, he's not electable." I don't know how that adds up.' "