But the candidate’s historic feat — he is the first Mormon to win a major party’s nomination — and his economic message were overshadowed by Donald Trump, who was helping Romney raise money at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas.
The provocative real estate magnate used the spotlight to promote his long-debunked contention that Obama was born in a foreign country. Romney aides admitted that this was an unhelpful distraction. At a moment when they wanted to put the president on the defensive, it was Romney who found himself in that position, leaving it to his aides to assert that he disagrees with Trump — while Obama’s aides said his refusal to publicly condemn his surrogate showed poor moral leadership.
With the general-election campaign underway, the Obama and Romney campaigns are working to negatively define each other for the independent voters who will decide the race in battleground states.
Romney, who thinks the economy will remain voters’ top concern, is trying to brand Obama as unfit at the helm. He says that, in contrast to himself, Obama lacks the private-sector experience to revive the economy — going so far as to argue that the president doesn’t understand how the nation’s “free economy” works.
Obama, meanwhile, is trying to make what Romney sells as a chief advantage — his 25 years as a businessman — a liability by highlighting his tenure as a founder and chief executive of Bain Capital, a corporate-buyout and venture-capital firm. Obama and his allies are pointing to companies that Bain took over, that ended up in bankruptcy and making massive layoffs.
Romney’s fresh offensive is designed in part to neutralize Obama’s critique. “This isn’t the first time he’s attacked free enterprise,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said of the president’s Bain comments. “He’s been doing it in word and deed the whole time he’s been president.”
‘Good for them. Bad for us.’
The Romney effort began Tuesday morning with a Web video highlighting the Obama administration’s loan-guarantee investments in four renewable-energy firms — Solyndra, First Solar, Ecotality and Sun Power — that lost money and laid off workers.
“Obama is giving taxpayer money to big donors,” the video’s narrator says, “and then watching them lose it. Good for them. Bad for us.”
American Crossroads, a Romney-allied super PAC, made a more direct link between some of those energy companies and the Bain Capital attacks, accusing the president of engaging in “public equity” by lending taxpayer dollars to corporations that eventually cut jobs.
“Failed investment strategies,” says an online video that the PAC leased Tuesday. “Jobs eliminated. Billions lost. Public equity President Obama: Playing Wall Street games with our money.”