DUNCAN, S.C. (The Blaze/AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is calling on an outside group that supports him to edit "inaccuracies" from a film it produced attacking Mitt Romney's tenure as a venture capitalist. But the group is sticking by the video.
The move comes as Gingrich, as well as other candidates, face pressure from an array of Republicans and conservatives to scale back their criticism of Romney's business record before it undermines the party heading into a general election with President Barack Obama.
Gingrich said Friday that he would continue to raise questions about Romney's tenure as the head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, and Romney's experience as Massachusetts governor.
But he said he wants Winning Our Future, a political action committee run by his allies, to cut inaccuracies from a 28-minute film it released this week assailing Romney's record at Bain. Shorter segments from the film, called "King of Bain", are also running on television in South Carolina ahead of the state's Jan. 21 primary.
"I am calling on them to either edit out every single mistake or pull the entire film," Gingrich said Friday after opening a campaign headquarters in Orlando, Fla.
Mitt Romney, however, defended his record in a new television ad Friday that accuses Republican presidential rivals who criticized his time at the helm of a private equity firm of "embarrassing themselves by taking the Obama line."
"Mitt Romney helped create and ran a company that invested in struggling businesses, grew new ones and rebuilt old ones, creating thousands of jobs," says Romney's new ad in South Carolina that lists Staples, Sports Authority and Steel Dynamics as successes of the Bain Capital venture firm. "We expected the Obama administration to put free markets on trial ... Romney's GOP opponents are embarrassing themselves by taking the Obama line."
The film assails Romney for "reaping massive rewards" for himself and investors while running Bain, at the expense of "tens of thousands" of workers who lost their jobs as a result.
Gingrich did not say what in the film was inaccurate and should be removed. But he pointed to a fact-check story in the Washington Post that said there was no evidence that Romney and Bain were responsible for the job losses cited in the film, and quoted people interviewed for the movie who said their words were taken out of context.
Either way, the White House has now picked up on the attacks.
As if on cue, Obama's campaign released a scathing memo noting that Bain closed companies and cut wages and benefits, while Romney and his partners became wealthy. The memo amounts to a roadmap of the Obama campaign's general election playbook should Romney become the GOP nominee.
"His overwrought response to questions about it has been to insist that any criticism of his business record is an assault on free enterprise itself," top Obama campaign aide Stephanie Cutter wrote. "But this is just an attempt to evade legitimate scrutiny of the record on which he says he's running."
The group behind the ad, however, isn't backing down. It took a defiant tone with National Review:
“His defense has been a pathetic performance,” Tyler says. “If he is under this kind of pressure from our PAC, what do you think Axelrod and Obama are going to do to him with a billion dollars? He is not prepared to go head to head against Barack Obama. They’ll make mincemeat out of him.”
“Show us the evidence, let’s see the numbers,” Tyler says, challenging the Romney campaign to document the jobs created by Bain Capital. “I don’t have an issue with Romney’s role in the free-market system; I think it was necessary. But don’t tell me you’re an eagle when you’re a vulture.”
“They’re acting as if my criticism is some sort of heresy,” Tyler says. “Mitt Romney is not the nominee. This is a competitive race. Just like free enterprise is competitive, politics is competitive, too.” More than irking the Romney campaign, the reaction to the film, he says, “shows that Romney does not actually have broad shoulders, and that maybe he’s not a big boy,” one ready for a general election.
PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with campaigns, though many are staffed by longtime supporters of the candidates.
The former House speaker has blamed what he calls negative and misleading ads from a pro-Romney PAC for eroding his support in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses. He finished a disappointing fourth in Iowa, as well as in New Hampshire, and now sees South Carolina as his last chance to slow Romney's march toward the GOP nomination.
On Friday, Gingrich renewed his previous calls for Romney to disavow misleading ads from a PAC supporting him, called Restore Our Future.
"The American people deserve a robust debate and full comparison of the plans and records of the people who are asking for their vote. They also deserve assurances that the information they are hearing is accurate," Gingrich said. "I am committed to holding my campaign and my supporters to this high standard of accuracy and I hope Gov. Romney will do the same."
Romney and Gingrich have tangled over the role of PACs before. In a debate earlier this week, Romney said that while he couldn't direct the ads put out by groups supporting him, he hoped that if they contain any wrong information, "they take it out."
Associated Press writers Kyle Hightower in Orlando, Fla., and Christine Armario in Miami contributed to this report.