In conference calls around the country Tuesday, the Republican National Committee attacked President Obama on the nation’s deficit, government spending, and the unemployment rate.
In calls with reporters all day in the battleground states of Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Colorado, Romney backers blasted the president for his “historic debt and deficit.” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called the president the “undisputed debt king of the last five presidents.”
Monday, the RNC released a web video highlighting the same issue, with footage of the president promising to cut the nation’s deficit in half and pay it down. Tuesday Romney campaigned in Iowa, pushing the same theme.
The goal is to keep the heat on the president and focus on the economy and try to keep the national conversation there instead of other issues that have come up, most notably Obama’s declaration last week that he supports same-sex marriage. Several supporters on the calls, including Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, called that nothing more than a “distraction.”
“Despite the fact that President Obama has repeatedly promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term,” Priebus said on the Missouri call, “we’ve seen the most rapid increase in debt under any U.S. president under this president…and by the time he’s finished President Obama will have added as much to the national debt as all of the predecessors before him combined.”
Although the lawmakers and backers on the calls were all different, the calls were similar and the message coordinated, lauding Romney for being a “turnaround artist” specializing in reviving struggling companies and chastising the president for “broken promises.”
“There’s no reason to expect anything different if he by some miracle were elected to a second term,” Priebus said. He said Obama “has a love affair with the sound of his own voice,” but “he doesn’t have a love affair with following through with promises.”
While the debt has increased since Obama became president, his campaign cites record spending on the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which began while George W. Bush was president, and Bush’s tax cuts.
Priebus blamed the president’s health care plan and stimulus as reasons the debt has increased, calling them a “debt bomb” and saying “a guy like that needs to be held accountable.”
Florida Rep. Dennis Ross openly said the debt was the fault of both parties, but he criticized the president for not doing more.
“The president did not create our debt problem. I’ll be the first to admit that it has been a Republican and Democrat issue for the last 30 years at least, but the president has spent the last three years ignoring it,” Ross said on the Florida call. Romney will be in the state tomorrow campaigning in Saint Petersburg and holding a fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami. Thursday he will campaign in Jacksonville.
The Virginia call, led by Romney delegate Barbara Comstock, who was a consultant on Romney’s 2008 campaign, was probably the most aggressive in comparing the nation’s economy to Greece and saying the president “simply has no experience,” a line used heavily in the last campaign.
“Here we are, after the Greek columns from 2008 have faded, and we are facing Greek-like debt,” Comstock said. “(Obama’s campaign) is doing everything to distract, finding any other issue that’s being talked about other than the economy, other than this debt and deficit.”
Comstock added: “When you’re a senator you don’t run your senate office. Pretty much anybody you know has had more managerial experience than this president.” She did not mention the executive experience Obama may have picked up over the last three and a half years in the White House.
Former Rep. Tom Davis, also on the Virginia call, touted Romney’s time working across party lines in Massachusetts, not something the campaign usually dwells on.
“People forget that Gov. Romney may not have had a perfect conservative record in Massachusetts,” Davis said. “He dealt with a heavily Democratic legislation during that time and knows how to how to govern in a bipartisan mode. So I don’t know what the makeup of the next congress will be, but when you take a look at the governor’s record he has been able to do an outstanding job in reaching across party lines and get results.”
Heck in Nevada called the economic crises in Greece and Spain a “cautionary tale” for this country.
When asked whether Romney can connect with the average voter, because of his personal wealth and recent revelations in a Washington Post story that as a teenager he cut the hair of a fellow student presumed to be gay, Heck called them “collateral issues.”
“The American public is smart enough to know that a lot of things come out during an election cycle, but really what people are looking for is a leader that is going to be able to create the economic environment where they are going to be able to get a job,” Heck said.
In response to the Republicans’ focus on the nation’s debt Tuesday and Romney’s speech in Iowa, the Obama campaign responded saying his speech in Des Moines was “heavy on dishonest claims about President Obama’s record.”
“It was noticeably lacking in any mention of Romney’s own record of increasing spending and debt in Massachusetts and his failure to lay out a plan to pay for his $5 trillion tax plan,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement. “It’s not surprising why Mitt Romney consistently ignores his record as governor on the campaign trail — he raised state spending 6.5 percent each year and left Massachusetts with the largest per-capita debt of any state in the nation.
“And while President Obama has put forward a plan to reduce the national debt by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, Mitt Romney refuses to say what spending cuts or tax increases he’d make to cover the cost of giving $5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Mitt Romney simply wants to return to the same policies that caused the crisis and weakened the middle class: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and letting Wall Street write its own rules.”