Texas Gov. Rick Perry has come under fire in several interviews for attacking rival Mitt Romney’s record of merging or shuttering companies in South Carolina during his time leading Bain Capital, a private investment firm. But Perry is standing by those attacks, insisting –- in what could be seen as a tacit acceptance that Romney will be the eventual nominee – that he’s just toughening his rival up for a general-election fight.

“He’s going to have to defend this,” Perry said in an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Wednesday morning. “And better in January than September if he’s going to be our nominee and have to explain.”