Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty…)
CLEVELAND — President Obama did not mention Mitt Romney by name when he campaigned here in Lorain County on Wednesday — but there was no question who he was referring to when he noted pointedly that he “wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth” and that he and his wife were given “a chance” by others.
The line was part of Obama’s argument as he campaigned at a community college in Elyria that the Republican budget would gut initiatives like job training programs that are aimed at getting unemployed Americans back to work.
But Romney wasn’t having any of it.
When asked about his Democratic rival’s comments Thursday morning on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Romney brushed over the circumstances of his own lucrative career at Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firm that he ran for 15 years, and spoke of his father’s trajectory from an apprentice carpenter to the chief executive of American Motors and a three-term governor of Michigan.
"I’m certainly not going to apologize for my dad and his success in life," Romney said after he was asked about Obama’s comments. “He was born poor. He worked his way to become very successful despite the fact that he didn’t have a college degree and one of the things he wanted to do was to provide for me and my brother and sisters."
To blunt the sustained effort by the Obama campaign to portray him as aloof and removed from the struggles of ordinary Americans, Romney has spoken of his father as an exemplar of the American dream. Since the early days of his 2008 presidential run, Romney has told audiences about how his father sold aluminum paint cans from the trunk of his car to pay for gas and hotels on his cross-country honeymoon with his wife Lenore.
He also recalls how his father spent time as an apprentice, training for work as a lath and plaster carpenter, and becoming so skilled that he could spit out a handful of nails pointing forward. Romney and his wife, Ann, have also repeatedly said they were drawn into a second presidential run because of the economic suffering they have seen across the country.
Pushing back against Democratic attacks on his privileged upbringing in Michigan and his personal fortune, which is estimated by the campaign to be between $190 million and $250 million, Romney has charged Obama with trying to engage in class warfare, while noting that Americans' incomes have fallen during his term.
“I know the president likes to attack fellow Americans,” Romney said on the Fox show after rebuffing the “silver spoon” comment. “He’s always looking for a scapegoat, particularly those who have been successful like my dad and I’m not going to rise to that. This is a time for us to solve problems.”
A few hours before visiting a shuttered factory in Ohio, Romney added that despite the president’s “flowery rhetoric, the record is terrible and we need someone who can get the country working again with rising incomes and bright prospects for our kids.”