- Mitt Romney has become the first Republican presidential candidate to win both opening rounds of voting
- Opponents believe Romney's comments on firing workers have left him exposed on unemployment
- Romney says his efforts as a venture capitalist created more than 100,000 jobs
- Rival Rick Parry says Romney's company were "vulture capitalists all too often"
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a win to savor and a wound to salve this week, after a crucial victory and a cringe-inducing gaffe.
"Romney may have won New Hampshire but the premise of his candidacy began to unravel, " said an aide inside the re-election team backing President Barack Obama.
The victory came in the New Hampshire primary election, the second contest in the long series of state-by-state votes to choose the candidate against Obama in November's presidential election.
Romney also won in the state of Iowa a week earlier, making him the first Republican ever to take both opening rounds of voting.
But as his opponents tried to find a way to stop his momentum, he offered them an easy opening with a comment about making sure Americans can choose how they get their healthcare.
"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," he said. "If someone doesn't give me the good service I need, I want to say I am going to get somebody else to provide that service to me."
The comment drew attention to what may be Romney's biggest vulnerabilities. He's a multi-millionaire former executive immeasurably richer than most American voters. He also once led a firm called Bain Capital that bought and sold large companies, whose employees sometimes lost their jobs in the process.
After his remark about firing people, even a routine campaign encounter with a young child drew a heckler's ridiculing cry of "Don't fire the baby, don't fire the baby."
Texas Governor Rick Perry, one of Romney's competitors for the Republican nomination, was no kinder.
"There is a real difference between a venture capitalist and a vulture capitalist. Venture capitalists are good. They go in, they invest, they create jobs. Bain Capital were vulture capitalists all too often."
Romney insists that his efforts created more than 100,000 jobs. Some news organizations have raised questions about that claim.
Unemployment is a central issue in the election. Romney says he can cure it. Now the question he's raised with an innocent remark is whether he's caused some of it too.