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Romney steers clear of controversy while campaigning in N.C.

May 11, 2012|By Maeve Reston

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Campaigning in North Carolina on Friday, Mitt Romney made no mention of two of the biggest issues in the news this week — the revelation of a $2-billion trading loss by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the state’s vote earlier this week for an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage.

Instead Romney largely stuck to his usual stump speech at a pipe factory here on the outskirts of downtown Charlotte, lamenting the state of the economy at a facility where the owner proudly noted that they had been able to avoid layoffs for 30 years. The presumed Republican nominee said Americans are experiencing “hard times” in part because President Obama has instated “old liberal policies from the past.”

“This economy has been the slowest, most tepid since Hoover.  It’s been that way because the president’s policies have not encouraged this economy to grow,” Romney told an audience of several hundred people at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Co. “They’ve scared the dickens out of banks; they’ve scared the dickens out of insurance companies. They scare employers in the manufacturing sector. I have an entirely different view.”  

Though Romney routinely argues that regulatory burdens imposed by the Obama administration have slowed the pace of economic recovery, and has vowed to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulations and replace them with a “streamlined, modern regulatory framework,” he did not mention that aspect of his plans in Charlotte on Friday.

Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, has been fighting, along with other firms, against the tougher financial rules, which are being drafted by regulators. The revelation of the $2-billion loss is likely to weaken their case. Regulators have announced they are looking into JPMorgan’s loss, which was discovered by the Federal Reserve and Britain’s banking regulator last month, the New York Times reported Friday.

Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said the former Massachusetts governor believes that JPMorgan’s reported trading loss “demonstrates the importance of oversight and transparency in the derivatives market, something Gov. Romney has called for in the past.”

“JPMorgan’s investors, not taxpayers, will incur any losses from this hedging trade gone bad,” Gorka said in a statement. “As president, Gov. Romney will push for common-sense regulation that gives regulators tools to do their jobs, and that gives investors more clarity.”

Romney made no mention of Tuesday’s passage of North Caolina's Amendment One, which outlaws same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for gay or straight couples. The amendment was approved 61% to 39%. A day later Obama announced that he believes same-sex couples should be able to get married. A few hours later Romney reaffirmed his view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. He has also said that same-sex civil unions should not be permitted if they grant the same rights as marriage.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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