As candidates look to the next primary state of South Carolina, where Texas Gov. Rick Perry has already begun campaigning, Romney is likely to face tougher questions about his business background.
Under attack from some of his rivals for his leadership at venture capital group Bain, Romney provided even more material for criticism on Monday by saying, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." Even though he was talking about how individuals can fire their insurance companies if they don't like them, the quote quickly became fodder for his competitors.
Huntsman played to Republican concerns about such quotes being dissected by Democrats if Romney is elected the GOP presidential candidate.
"Listen, if you're going to make statements like that, you become pretty much unelectable," he told reporters today. "Because if it isn't a Republican, it's going to be the Chicago campaign machine with a billion dollars at their sails that's going to take after comments like that."
Perry, who skipped New Hampshire after the debates this weekend, likened companies such as Bain Capital -- without saying its name -- to "vultures".
"Allowing these companies to come in and loot the, loot people's jobs, loot their pensions, loot their ability to take care of their families and I will suggest they're just vultures," Perry said today at a town hall in Fort Mill, S.C. "They're vultures that sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass. They leave with that and they leave the skeleton."
Romney, however, found some sympathy from others, including Paul who defended his rival's statement in an interview with ABC News' Jonathan Karl.
"I think they're wrong," Paul said of Romney's critics. "I think they're totally misunderstanding the way the market works. They are either just demagoguing or they don't have the vaguest idea how the market works."
Rick Santorum told ABC News' Jake Tapper that Romney's comment sends the wrong message, but he also cut his rival some slack.
"I am not too sure that is a very good message to a lot of folks out there," he said today. "It was certainly an inarticulate way of phrasing what he wanted to phrase, but it's a little bit of a gotcha."
Nevertheless, Romney's comment could pick up steam as candidates head to South Carolina on Wednesday, a state where the unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent stands above the national average.
"The Republican party in South Carolina is not based in big business," Republican strategist and ABC News consultant Matthew Dowd said. "It's working class. Blue collar. It's much more populist."
ABC News' Gary Langer, Elizabeth Hartfield, Emily Friedman, Arlette Saenz and Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.