CANTON, Ohio – Pushing his closing arguments before Tuesday’s 10-state voting contest, Mitt Romney accused President Obama and his GOP rivals of paying too little attention to the major issues facing Americans, claiming that his campaign’s relentless focus on the economy has contributed to his winning streak in the primaries and will help him defeat the president this fall.
“When our president came into office there was one key job in front of him, and that was to get this economy going and put people back to work. But instead of focusing his energy on that topic, he instead went off on a whole series of other things he wanted to do,” Romney said, speaking at Gregory Industries, a steel company that specializes in highway guard rails. “One of the reasons we’re having such difficulty coming out of the downturn we’re in is because the president has failed to focus on what was most important to America, which is getting good jobs again.
“I will focus on those things that are most important,” Romney said. “I will focus on getting good jobs and less debt and smaller government. Again that’s what I know.
“During this campaign there has been discussion about all sorts of issues. I keep bringing it back to more jobs, less debt and smaller government,” Romney said, not mentioning any of his GOP rivals by name during the speech.
While Romney has mostly focused on discussing the economy, his counterparts, especially chief rival Rick Santorum, have spent more time talking about social issues on the stump.
“That’s what my campaign is about,” Romney said of the economy. “That’s why I believe I’m doing well at this stage. My gosh, we just won our fifth state in a row, Washington state. And endorsements from key Republicans across the country in part because of that very simple message and our focus on what’s most important.”
The second-ranking Republican in the House, Minority Whip Eric Cantor, endorsed Romney this weekend and former Attorney General John Ashcroft did the same today.
“I look at this campaign right now and I see a lot of folks all talking about lots of things, but what we need to talk about to defeat Barack Obama is getting good jobs and scaling back the size of government and that’s what I do,” Romney said. “What I know is the economy. I spent my life in the real economy. I know why jobs come and why they go.
“Other people in this race have debated about the economy, they’ve read about the economy, they’ve talked about it in subcommittee meetings, but I’ve actually been in it,” he said. “I’ve worked in business. I understand what it takes to get a business successful and to thrive. I understand how it is that government gets in the way.”
Romney will hold two more campaign events today in Ohio, a state where a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows him with a slight edge over Santorum, leading him 35 percent to 31 percent of likely Republican primary voters, a 10point shift in Romney’s favor since Feb. 27.
Senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom attributed Romney’s surge in the polls to his “pro-jobs message.”
“[Romney] has been surging this week just because he’s boots on the ground, spreading his pro-jobs message,” Fehrnstrom said. “He’s not like other candidates who get distracted by non-economic issues. He stays focused on the economy and I think that, more than anything else, explains why he’s surging.”