But Romney employed particularly stinging rhetoric in a sort of campaign “prebuttal,” a day before the president is expected to deliver a major campaign speech in Ohio in which he tries to reframe the economic debate.
Seizing again on Obama’s comment last week that “the private sector is doing fine,” Romney said, “the incredulity that came screaming back from the American people, I think, has caused him to rethink that.”
“I think you’re going to see him change course when he speaks tomorrow, where he will acknowledge that it isn’t going so well, and he’ll be asking for four more years,” Romney continued. “My own view is that he will speak eloquently but that words are cheap, and that the record of an individual is the basis upon which you determine whether they should continue to hold onto their job.”
That there are 23 million Americans out of work or underemployed, Romney said, “is a compelling and a sad statistic. These are real people.”
Romney painted a dire portrait of the U.S. economy under a second Obama term. He warned that Obama would “stifle” energy resources in coal, oil and natural gas, as well as raise the cost of health care through the implementation of “Obamacare,” increase the regulatory burden on businesses and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“I think this election is a watershed reelection, which will determine the relationship between citizen and enterprise and government,” Romney said.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith responded that Romney was “dishonest” in his attacks on the president’s record, saying Obama helped the country create 4.3 million private sector jobs over the last 27 months.
“In another in a long line of ‘major’ economic speeches, Mitt Romney made dishonest after dishonest claim about the president’s record and failed to offer any new ideas of his own on how to improve the economy and strengthen the middle class,” Smith said in a statement.
Romney, himself a former CEO, seemed at ease addressing the members of the Business Roundtable, a lobby organization made up of chief executives. He waved hello to a former consulting colleague from Bain and sprinkled through his speech references to some business titans he had met with recently, including August Busch, the former CEO of Anheuser-Busch.
“Government has to be the partner, the friend, the ally, the supporter of enterprise, not the enemy,” Romney said. “Too often you find yourself facing a government that looks at you like you’re the bad guys, and if you’re hiring people and employing people and paying taxes, you’re the good guys. I want you to do well.”