Charlotte, N,C.— Signaling a sharper, more confrontational turn to the general election, Mitt Romney hammered President Obama on Wednesday for failing to make good on his promises, using Obama’s words against him in a speech that aides billed as a “prebuttal” to Obama’s nominating address, set for this city five months from now.
“We’re a trusting people. We’re a hopeful people, but we’re not dumb and we’re not going to fall for the same lines from the same person just because we’re in a different place,” Romney said.
Citing job losses and the rise in the national deficit, Romney predicted that Obama wouldn’t be quoting from his address four years ago, nor would the president give a true picture of his administration’s record.
“What you won’t hear at that convention is that for the last 38 months unemployment has been above 8 percent, that we’ve had 24 million Americans that are out of work, have stopped looking for work or underemployed,” he said. “You won’t hear that since he gave that speech and became president that there have been 50,000 more job losses in North Carolina.”
North Carolina, with 15 electoral votes, will be a key battleground state in the general election—Obama won in 2008 by fewer than 15,000 votes and would need a strong turnout of Latinos, college-educated whites and African-Americans to win again.
Romney, who got a standing ovation from the crowd as he said that he would likely be the GOP nominee, has started to “bracket” Obama, appearing in key swing states to counter the president’s message as the president targets the same states.
Romney said that Obama was in “over his head and swimming in the wrong direction,” when it comes to guiding the country.
“On the measures that the president himself indicated would determine whether we’re making progress or not he has failed,” Romney said. “It is very clear that his agenda has not accomplished what he said it would when he ran for office and spoke in Denver.”
Romney has spent the last few days courting his core conservatives, speaking last week at an National Rifle Association convention and this week before a tea party group in Philadelphia.
Thursday, Romney is scheduled to appear in Lorain, Ohio to offer a rebuttal to Obama’s Wednesday appearance and argue that the administration’s policies and regulations have killed jobs. Romney is set to use the National Gypsum Company as a backdrop, where Obama appeared in February of 2008 and promised to be a job creator in the White House.
Yet, the factory closed in June 2008, months before Obama’s economic policies were in place and while President George Bush was still in the White House. The messaging mismatch suggests a larger problem with Romney’s narrative on the economy—he has campaigned as if Bush were never in the White House, even as polls suggest that voters still blame Bush for the damaged economy.
Romney, who has said that the economy is starting to recover, said that even if the job numbers improve, Obama would not deserve credit.
“Now it’s going to get below 8 percent some day, our economy always comes back,” said Romney, speaking about the unemployment rate. “But it’s no thanks to the policies of Barack Obama.”