Presidential candidate Rick Perry's criticism of Mitt Romney's business past had a boomerang effect Thursday, costing him the support of a prominent Republican in South Carolina.
Investment fund executive and top GOP donor Barry Wynn told The Associated Press he was leaving the Perry fold to endorse Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. Wynn said Perry's attacks on Romney's time at the helm of the private equity firm Bain Capital had crossed the line in a political party that values free-market capitalism.
"I've been fighting for this cause most of my life," Wynn said. "It's like fingernails on the chalkboard. It just kind of irritated you to hear those kind of attacks."
Perry, the Texas governor, swung hard this week at Romney's work at Bain Capital. The firm sometimes turned big profits even as companies it invested in went under, including some in South Carolina, and people lost jobs. Perry called Romney a "vulture capitalist" who put profits ahead of jobs.
By late Wednesday, Perry had backed away from the attack line and didn't mention in during remarks to crowds at campaign stops.
Perry is desperate for a strong showing in South Carolina, where the primary is Jan. 21, to keep his presidential hopes alive. He finished near the bottom of the pack in the voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Katon Dawson, a top Perry adviser in South Carolina, tried to minimize the effect of Wynn's decision.
"It's unfortunate and disappointing. But at the end of the day we are marching on," Dawson said. "It won't have any impact. The only impact it will have is on the media trying to report it."
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