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5 Stances on Capitalism from GOP Candidates

Throughout the recent weeks there has been significant discussion of capitalism among republican candidates. Mitt Romney has been taken through the ringer for his time at private equity firm Bain Capital. Here, we break down where each candidate stands on capitalism (a subject that CEOs know all about).

One might think Republican presidential hopeful would understand the principles of a market-based economy and now how to defend them. Suddenly, the debates have flushed out differences in various conceptions of what capitalism is or isn’t. Get used to a wide range of different understandings–and we haven’t even heard the official Democrat point of view yet!

Here are some resources on GOP candidates and their opinions on business.

Mitt Romney

As the former CEO of Bain Capital, a private equity firm he headed from 1984 to 1998,  Romney is a clear supporter of capitalism but seems personally uncomfortable articulating its moral defense or even trying to explain how it operates in a modern economy. Romney equates attacks on his record at Bain with putting “free enterprise on trial,” which may be true, but beside the point.

Newt Gingrich

Gingrich jumped on Romney’s activities at Bain, calling it ‘crony capitalism.’ Gingrich instead says he is for ‘free enterprise.’ saying that what the former Massachusetts governor indulged in was a form of, “ crony capitalism, where people pay each other off at the expense of the rest of the country.” This betrays an unsteady grasp of what private equity firms try to do. Memo to the former Speaker: Solyndra is crony capitalism. Bain is an ordinary firm buying distressed companies and trying to fix them up.

Rick Perry

Rick Perry called Romney a ‘vulture capitalist,’ not defining exactly what that terms means to him, but no matter because its a great sound byte and mother’s milk to the MSM  He defends his love of capitalism, saying that free-market economy has created over a million jobs in the state of Texas, but that ‘fraudulent capitalism’ has got to stop. No one has asked him if some of those jobs may have been created by PE firms operating in the Lone Star State.

Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman joined the criticism against Romney and said, “Romney enjoys firing people.”  The question is, how would Huntsman know this? Memo to Huntsman: Jobs are created and destroyed in a market economy all the time.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum has defended Romney’s position on capitalism, going so far as to say that the candidates who are attacking Romney are attacking capitalism itself. Santorum said, “It’s this hostile rhetoric, which unfortunately – I don’t want to stand here and be a defender of Mitt Romney – but unfortunately even some in our party now, even some running for president will engage in with respect to capitalism.” Memo to Santorum: One doesn’t have to defend Romney to defend the principles of economic liberty inherent in a dynamic market economy.Re-read Adam Smith or better, Friedrich Hayek or Ludwig von Mises.


Read: Mitt Romney’s extreme defense of capitalism
Read: Newt Gingrich: ‘Crony capitalism…is not free enterprise’
Read: Rick Perry ‘vulture’ attack on Romney costs him influential S.C. supporter
Read: Rick Perry: ‘I Love Capitalism’
Read: Santorum: Attacks on Romney are attacks on capitalism
Read: Republicans against capitalism

About J.P. Donlon

J.P. Donlon
J.P. Donlon is Editor Emeritus of Chief Executive magazine.