CHARLOTTE — Mitt Romney returned Friday to North Carolina, where voters this week overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but he made no mention of the divisive social issue that has dominated the week’s political news.

Signs display messages about gay marriage in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, in Wilmington, N.C. (Ken Blevins/AP)

Romney, who opposes gay marriage but believes same-sex couples should be afforded some rights, including the ability to adopt children, continued his careful strategy of staying largely mute on the subject. After President Obama announced Wednesday that he now supports gay marriage, the subject became a campaign issue on which the two candidates differ starkly.

Instead, Romney tried to shift the spotlight to his core economic message in his 15-minute speech Friday to hundreds of supporters inside a pipe and foundry business near downtown Charlotte.

Romney did not mention the $2 billion trading loss disclosed Thursday by JP Morgan, the nation’s largest bank, that may have broad implications for the financial sector. He declined to comment when reporters asked him questions about it at the ropeline following the event.

A campaign spokesman, Rick Gorka, said the loss “demonstrates the importance of oversight and transparency in the derivatives market.” He added that Romney, as president, would “push for common-sense regulation that gives regulators tools to do their jobs, and that gives investors more clarity.”

Romney has said in the past that he wants to roll back a number of Wall Street regulations, and he backs the repeal of both the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law and the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting law.

In his speech, Romney continued a line of attack he debuted Tuesday in Michigan, assailing Obama over what he called “old liberal policies from the past” that have inhibited economic growth and “scared the dickens” out of banks and other companies.

“Right now we’re finding people across the country who are experiencing some hard times,” Romney said. “I think one of the reasons is because we have a president who’s installed some of the old liberal policies from the past. And they didn’t work then, and they sure as heck are not working now and they’ll not work in the future.”

Romney ended his speech by evoking patriotism. He told a story about his niece and her husband, who moved into a starter home with their one-year-old daughter, who he said was “stone deaf.” When the husband, a lawyer, got called up by the National Guard to serve in Iraq, their household income declined.

“She now had to live on a much lower income,” Romney said of his niece. “Now she’s in this home, and the outside of her home is a whole dirt yard, no grass or anything in yet, just stones or dirt.”

The neighborhood association where they lived gave new homeowners one year until their landscaping was supposed to be put in. But, Romney said, his niece did not have the money to pay for it.

“She’s concerned,” Romney recalled. “One morning she comes outside and there are her neighbors, all picking up the rocks out of her yard, raking the dirt. They put in a sprinkler system, they lay down sod, they put in landscaping, they even build a swing set for her daughter. This is the America that I love.”