President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters during a rally today… (C.J. Gunther / EPA )
NASHUA, N.H. – President Obama on Saturday pointed to Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts as proof that his budget plan would squeeze the middle class.
And Obama did so almost within shouting distance of the Bay State’s border with swing-state New Hampshire, telling supporters that Romney’s promises of “big change” are a “rerun” of failed policies.
Romney, Obama said, is “making a lot of last-minute promises lately,” claiming he would “cut taxes for everybody and ask something from nobody.”
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“But the problem is, we’ve heard those promises before,” he said to a crowd of 8,500 – some of whom likely came from Massachusetts to see him at the rally outside a local school.
“During Gov. Romney’s campaign for governor down there, he promised the same thing he’s promising now. … But once he took office, he pushed through a tax cut that overwhelmingly benefited 278 of the wealthiest families in the state and then he raised taxes and fees on middle-class families to the tune of $750 million. Does that sound familiar to you?”
The president said he imposed new taxes – conceding that Romney argued they were only “fees” – on everything from gas and milk to marriage and birth certificates. The latter “would have been expensive for me,” Obama quipped, referring to the so-called “birther” conspiracy that prompted him to release his long-form birth records.
Those tax cuts for the well-off did little to help the state’s economy, Obama argued, saying that during Romney’s tenure in Massachusetts the state ranked fourth from the bottom in job creation.
The argument was a two-fer for the president, amplifying Obama’s case nationally that Romney’s budget plan does not add up and feeding another line of attack, that Romney has a “track record of saying one thing and doing something else,” while Obama argues he has provided “steady” leadership and followed through on his promises.
What’s more, the argument that Romney was a tax-raiser as governor would have particular resonance among voters in the Granite State with their reputation for Yankee frugality.
The Romney campaign countered, though, that the president was misrepresenting the Republican’s record.
“As governor, Mitt Romney worked with Democrats to close a $3-billion deficit, balance four budgets while cutting taxes 19 times, create tens of thousands of new jobs, and lower the Massachusetts unemployment rate to 4.7%,” spokesman Ryan Williams said. “Today’s desperate attacks are laughable coming from a president whose only plan for a second term is to recycle the failed policies of the last four years while raising taxes by $2 trillion.”
Obama’s stop here was just his second since the Democratic National Convention in early September, but comes just over a week after his last one in Manchester. The visit coincided with the state’s deadline for advance voter registration; voters here can also sign up to vote on election day.
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The president was preceded on stage by James Taylor, whose set list included “Carolina On My Mind.”
New Hampshire has only four electoral votes, the least among the most-contested states, but enough to warrant increasing attention from both campaigns in the final 10 days.
Vice President Joe Biden will be here Monday, and Romney is scheduled to hold his first rally in more than a month in Manchester on Tuesday.
"New Hampshire is gonna be very important,” Obama told union workers at a stop en route to Nashua earlier Saturday. “We don't know how this thing is gonna play out [and] these four electoral votes right here could make the difference.”
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