LANSING, Michigan - Mitt Romney today attempted to link President Obama with "old-school liberal policies," citing a new interactive featured on the president's reelection campaign's website as evidence that the commander-in-chief is bringing back an era of "big government."
" President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st century America," said Romney today, speaking at an auditorium at Lansing Community College, his first trip to his native state of Michigan since the state's primary in February. "Liberal policies didn't work back then, they haven't worked during these last four years, and they will not work in the future."
"New Democrats had abandoned those policies, but President Obama resurrected them, with predictable results," said Romney. "President Clinton, remember, he said the era of big government was over. President Obama brought it back with a vengeance."
"Old-school liberals saw a problem and thought a government-run program was the answer," Romney said. " Obamacare is the fulfillment of their dreams."
Romney used the Obama campaign's interactive graphic, " The Life of Julia ," which shows how a female voter is impacted under a Romney administration and conversely by an Obama administration, as an example of how Obama "envisions government guiding and providing every need of every citizen."
"Government would be at the center, the most important player in our lives," said Romney.
Then, launching into his first criticism to date of the President's "Life of Julia" feature, Romney described the interactive flatly: "It's a cartoon."
"Julia progresses from cradle to grave, showing how government makes every good thing in her life possible. The weak economy, high unemployment, falling wages, rising gas prices, the national debt, the insolvency of entitlements - all these are fictionally assumed away in a cartoon produced by a president who wants us to forget about them," said Romney.
"By the way what does it say about a president's policies when he has to use a cartoon character rather than real people to justify his record?" Romney added, to a round of applause. "What does it say about the fiction of old liberalism to insist that good jobs and good schools and good wages will result from policies that have failed us, time and again?"
Vowing to "usher in a revival" of American manufacturing, Romney said that with "the right policies and the right leadership" an economic turnaround is possible. He spoke of instituting "pro-growth regulations" and "pro-growth tax policies," and of rebuilding the country's "failing infrastructure."
But more than anything, Romney sought to poke holes in Obama's campaign rhetoric.
"You may recall in his campaign kickoff speech just last week, he asked us not to think about these last four years," said Romney. "That's convenient, but it's not convincing."
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith called Romney's promises today "empty."
"Mitt Romney's empty promises on the economy today belie his opposition to the catalyst for Michigan's economic comeback: the auto rescue pushed by President Obama," said Smith. "The President brought the economy back from the brink of another Depression in part because he bet on American workers to spur the comeback of the American auto industry and American manufacturing. Today, American manufacturers are adding jobs for the first time since the 1990's."
Romney did not mention the auto bailout during his speech today. Earlier, in an interview with ABC affiliate WEWS, Romney took some credit for Detroit's rebound, because even though he opposed giving car companies taxpayer money, he did advocate for a managed bankruptcy.
'Mitt Romney didn't have the courage to bet on American workers and instead said that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,'" wrote Smith, referring to a 2008 oped in the New York Times written by Romney.
"Despite his best efforts to etch-a-sketch this position, he can't shake away the fact that if he'd had his way, the American auto industry and the millions of jobs it supports would have been devastated," she said. "Now he wants to bring back budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and letting Wall Street write its own rules-policies that President Clinton compared to the failed economic policies that created the crisis, but 'on steroids.' The American people won't be fooled- they know that this is the same economic scheme that crashed our economy and punished the middle class in the first place."