Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is picking up the pace of his campaign. (Rich Schultz/AP)

Returning to the campaign trail here Monday, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney sought to blame the U.S. government’s credit downgrade squarely on President Obama.

Romney said the downgrade by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which has sparked a sharp drop in global financial markets, “punctuated once again the failure of leadership by the president.”

“It seems that they would substitute Harry Truman’s ‘the buck stops here’ with the new motto of the White House, which is ‘the buck stops somewhere else,’ ” Romney told reporters in New Hampshire. “The truth is, the buck does stop at the president’s desk and he needs to exert the leadership necessary to restore America’s financial foundation, the credibility of our fiscal capacity and restore once again the balance sheet upon which our economy rests.”

Moments later, Romney addressed the downgrade at a roundtable with the Concord Chamber of Commerce. “It’s just blame, blame, blame. It’s a blame presidency,” Romney said.

“You’re the president,” he added. “We expect you to be at a different level, to conduct business at a different level. . . . Stop attacking and lead. . . . I don’t think I’ve seen a more partisan, blame-oriented presidency during my lifetime.”

When asked whether House Republicans, and a cohort of tea party freshmen specifically, shared in the responsibility for a toxic political environment that Standard & Poor’s cited in its evaluation of the government’s credit worthiness, Romney said: “I don’t think it’s simply the president’s fault. I think there are, I’m sure, many people who share responsibility for the excessive spending in Washington over the last couple of decades.”

But, Romney added, “the president is the person that leads the nation and leads the efforts in Washington.

“If it’s tough working there, welcome to the real world,” Romney said. “That’s what happens. It was tough being governor of Massachusetts. It’s tough being governor of any one of the states that we deal with, and you have to know how to work across the aisle and to get the job done for the American people.”

During his governorship, Romney said, Massachusetts saw “a credit upgrade as opposed to what you’re seeing right now, which is a credit downgrade.”

Romney’s comments came as he began his first day of campaigning in 12 days, during which the Republican spent time with his family and advisers at his New Hampshire vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Romney planned to visit with the Manchester Rotary Club before an evening town hall meeting in Nashua. From New Hampshire, Romney heads to Iowa, where he will campaign on Wednesday and Thursday and participate in a nationally televised debate there Thursday night.


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