GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – While one of his chief surrogates lobbed attack after attack on GOP rival Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney himself stayed entirely focused on President Obama today, providing a laundry list of reasons why he does not deserve to be elected to a second term.
“President Obama three years ago was on the today show and he said if he couldn’t turn the economy around in 3 years, he’d be looking at a one term proposition,” Romney said at a rally. “We are here to collect, and by the way, he was on the ‘Today’ show again this morning on the anniversary of that statement and he said he deserves a second term.
“No, Mr. President you do not deserve a second term,” he said, speaking in the ballroom of the Country Inns of America hotel. “You see he set his own standards. He said if we let him borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he’d keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. It has not been below 8 percent since. So he does not deserve it, based upon on that.
“And how about some of the other promises he made?” he said. “Remember he also said that he was going to have an immigration plan, comprehensive immigration reform in his first year? He didn’t do that either. And then there was Iran, remember he was going to have this policy of engagement, sit down with [President] Ahmadinejad? Iran would obviously be dissuaded of their nuclear ambition. That hasn’t happened either.
“And then there is the income of the American people. Do you realize that the medium income in America has dropped 10 percent in the past four years? That hasn’t worked,” he said. “And of course, home foreclosures. People say, ‘Well, that isn’t all his fault.’ Oh, really? How about Dodd-Frank, this bill that came in did not make it more likely for banks to be willing to renegotiate loans with people and as a result you’re seeing such a high level of foreclosures.
“I’m afraid based upon the president’s own standards he has failed,” Romney said. “He does not deserve a second term.”
Romney has kept his razor-sharp focus on Obama since the Florida primary, where voters saw an onslaught of negative ads lobbed between Gingrich and Romney. But since his win in the Sunshine State, and then in Nevada, Romney has maintained his focus on unseating the president, largely ignoring the other Republicans still vying for the nomination.
But as Romney himself stays on the anti-Obama message, members of his campaign and his surrogates have not, taking over some of the dirty work and renewing their attacks on Santorum as a “champion of earmarks.”
In a conference call this morning, Romney backer and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lit into Santorum, suggesting that the former Pennsylvania senator isn’t as conservative as he claims to be.
“I wanted to focus this morning on the notion that Rick Santorum is presenting to caucus attendees in Minnesota and to conservatives beyond, that Rick Santorum is really as conservative as those caucus attendees, and he’s not,” Pawlenty said.
“If you look at his record overall, there’s a number of things that should be concerning about that record to conservatives and I’ll just focus this morning on the spending and fiscal aspects of that,” he said. “Rick Santorum has been a champion of earmarks.”
In addition to Pawlenty’s own remarks, the Romney campaign redistributed the press release detailing Santorum’s endorsement of Romney in 2008, as well as a fact sheet declaring Santorum a “proud defender of earmarks and pork-barrel spending.”
Santorum himself didn’t seem to mind the attention paid to him by the Romney campaign, telling reporters, he “loves it.”
Hogan Gidley, Santorum’s communications director, later added: “If Gov. Romney were confident running on his record and his vision for the future, he would. But Gov. Romney does what he always does and directs his well-funded attack machine to destroy the opponent.”
ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe contributed to this report.