Ron Paul's presidential campaign defended rival Mitt Romney on Tuesday and accused Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Jon Hunstman of using "leftist tactics" against him.

"Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use ‘gotcha’ tactics to discredit us," Ron Paul Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton said in a statement. "Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context."

During a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in New Hampshire on Monday, Romney touted the idea of Americans buying their own insurance instead of it being provided by employers.

“I want people to be able to own their own insurance,” he explained. “That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means that if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them."

“I like being able to fire people that provide services to me,” the candidate added.

The remark was seized upon by his rivals, who linked it to his time at Bain Capital, a venture capital company he founded. The Wall Street Journal determined that Bain Capital forced about 22 percent of the companies it acquired to file for bankruptcy or shut down completely, “sometimes with substantial job losses.”

“Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich are employing leftist tactics because they can’t run on their questionable records and can’t distinguish themselves from Romney," Benton added. "Like Romney, they all supported bailouts, big spending, deficits, and individual healthcare mandates.  And, all three have disqualified themselves from the race for President of the United States, first with their records, then with their inability access major state ballots, and finally with these desperate and deplorable tactics."

With prior reporting by Stephen C. Webster