Mitt Romney speaks to supporters in Charlotte, N.C. (Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty…)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Stepping up his efforts to directly engage President Obama, Mitt Romney took his campaign to a rooftop in Charlotte on Wednesday overlooking the stadium where Obama will deliver his convention speech this summer — and accused his Democratic rival of failing to deliver on the promises he made to voters four years ago.
Reading from notes at a podium bearing an “Obama Isn’t Working” sign, Romney alternated between quoting hopeful passages from Obama’s 2008 convention speech and ticking off sobering statistics about the nation’s economy: an 8% unemployment rate, hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in North Carolina, and 24 million Americans out of work or underemployed.
The former Massachusetts governor noted that during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Obama said progress could be measured by the number of people who could find a job that paid their mortgage.
“You won’t hear that since he gave that speech, and became president, that there have been 50,000 more job losses here in North Carolina,” Romney said, “more than twice as many as would fit in that stadium. You will not hear that 400,000 North Carolinians are out of work.”
As the Republican Party’s nominee, he said, “I’m going to make sure the people of America hear those things loud and clear.”
Romney also mocked the backdrop of Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Denver in 2008, where he spoke in front of a neoclassical temple facade complete with dour Doric columns and 10 pilasters. He said Obama would not make that same move in 2012 because “he doesn’t want to remind anyone of Greece because he has put us on a road to become more like Greece."
“With trillion-dollar deficits each of the years he has been in office, with forecasts of huge deficits down the road, this is a president who is putting in peril our economic future.”
As he often does in his campaign speech, Romney alleged that the president has tried to shift blame for the nation’s economic struggles to others. “At some point he’s got to acknowledge this is his economy, that what’s happened is the result of his policies, not of his predecessors, not of Congress,” he said, adding that Obama had a majority in Congress during his first two years in office.
“We’re a hopeful people, but we’re not dumb,” Romney said. “We’ve learned who Barack Obama is and what he’s capable of doing — that he’s over his head and he’s swimming in the wrong direction.”
Romney’s speech drew a warm response from the several hundred people who sat on white folding chairs inside (after rain forced the campaign to move the event off an adjacent terrace). The event was wedged between a lunchtime fundraiser at a steakhouse in Raleigh, N.C., and an evening event at a Charlotte Country Club.
It was the first of several events that his campaign has organized this week to “bracket” the president’s movements. On Thursday, a day after Obama touted federal job training programs at a community college in the Cleveland suburbs, Romney will head to a closed factory in nearby Lorain, Ohio, to offer his critique of the administration’s regulations and economic policies, which he argues have slowed the economic recovery.