As part of its weeklong push to criticize President Barack Obama on the economy and the deficit, the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign today hit the president on the national debt.
On an RNC conference call Wednesday, New Hampshire lawmakers never mentioned the trillions in debt accrued during the Bush administration, mostly due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and instead compared the country’s economy to the dire situation in Greece.
The RNC also released clips of Obama in 2008 calling the $4 trillion of national debt under Bush “unpatriotic” and criticizing the president for the trillions of debt increase since that day. Campaigning in Florida Wednesday, Romney’s message was the same.
“I find it incomprehensible that a president could come to office and call his predecessor’s record irresponsible and unpatriotic and then do almost nothing to fix it,” Romney said in Saint Petersburg. The deficit increased by about $5 trillion under the Bush administration and has increased about the same during Obama’s term. The Obama campaign points to the Bush tax cuts and the two wars as reasons for the rising debt.
Tuesday, the chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, called the president the “undisputed debt king of the last five presidents.”
On the call Wednesday, former New Hampshire senator John Sununu and New Hampshire state senator Jeb Bradley warned, as other Romney backers did on seven state conference calls Tuesday, the country could be headed toward the dire situation Greece finds itself in.
Sununu said Romney “won’t burden our future generations with more debt,” calling this the “operating procedure of Barack Obama.”
“These choices have real consequences,” Sununu said. “You just ask the people of Greece what the consequences are, and the United States is not Greece, but it does demonstrate that debt and deficits can get to a point where the people of the country no longer control their future and their destiny.”
Sununu called the debt “not just a financial question,” but a “moral question of how much do we want the government to control.”
“I remind you that we have watched the inconceivable become inevitable in the default and the disintegration of the euro, so it can happen here unless we have the kind of leadership that Mitt Romney is willing to provide to deal with our budget, to balance our budget, and reduce the size of government,” Sununu warned.
Bradley, a former U.S. congressman from New Hampshire, said “the chaos that’s happening in Europe will be happening in America” if entitlement reform does not happen.
When asked if Greece is a good lesson in helping voters understand how critical the debt situation is, Sununu answered that Greece makes it “all too clear that unsustainable debt has consequences, number one. Number two, the sources of that unsustainable debt in Greece, as in the United States, related to unchecked retirement and healthcare costs that are not in balance.”
Bradley said the president has had “four years of no answers,” and even called the Obama campaign’s new television ad painting Romney and Bain Capital as ruthless, bankrupting companies and laying off workers as proof of “Obama’s war on success.”
“President Obama does not like the fact that people are successful, that businesses are successful in this country, and he’s waging a campaign that pits Americans against Americans,” Bradley said. “The America that I know and love is an America where everybody strives to be successful. The America that I think President Obama wants to aspire to looks a lot more like Europe, and look at the chaos in Europe, and if President Obama’s given another four years, that chaos is gonna be on our shores and magnified 10-fold probably, because America’s the bastion of free enterprise. That’s what’s at stake here. We wanna encourage success, not wage a war on success, and that’s the difference, fundamentally, between Barack Obama and Governor Romney.”
The Obama campaign responded to Romney’s debt criticism in a statement from spokeswoman Lis Smith, saying, “Romney ignores that when President Obama took office, he was handed the largest deficit relative to the economy since the end of World War II, largely due to failed economic policies that Mitt Romney would bring back”.
“While President Obama has put forward a plan to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion by making responsible spending cuts and asking every American to pay their share, 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,” wrote Smith. “Mitt Romney simply wants to return to the same policies that caused the economic crisis and weakened the middle class: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that do nothing to grow our economy and letting Wall Street write its own rules, which crashed our economy.”
ABC News’ Emily Friedman contributed to this report.