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Published: Tuesday, 5/8/2012

Romney attacks Obama's record on economy, jobs in Ohio rally

GOP candidate initially silent on 'treason,' bin Laden remarks

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listens to a question from a supporter at a town hall-style meeting in Euclid, Ohio. Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney listens to a question from a supporter at a town hall-style meeting in Euclid, Ohio.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

EUCLID, Ohio -- Like the giant device behind him -- an 800-ton press powerful enough to stamp car parts out of steel -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sought to put his own stamp on the economy during the last three and a half years under President Barack Obama in a campaign trip to Euclid Monday.

The former Massachusetts governor spoke at Stamco Industries Co. in this industrial city on Lake Erie about 10 miles from downtown Cleveland during a presidential campaign that is focusing heavily on Ohio's 18 electoral votes.

From a public relations point of view, Mr. Romney's stamping machinery encountered malfunctions when two supporters said things that drew demands for an apology or a retraction from the Obama camp.

Warm-up speaker David Yost, Ohio auditor of state, said President Obama deserved no more credit for killing terrorist Osama bin Laden than Ronald McDonald does for making a Big Mac.

And Mr. Romney didn't utter any disagreement with a questioner who said in the course of her question that Mr. Obama "should be tried for treason."

Later, Mr. Romney and his campaign distanced the candidate from both statements.

Mr. Romney did not suffer from a lack of enthusiasm from the several hundred people who squeezed into the factory.

The audience erupted in cheers when a questioner started out by addressing Mr. Romney as "President Romney."

"At the Democratic convention in 2008, the President got up and spoke about hope and change. But he hasn't lived up to those expectations. We hoped this President would be successful -- I sure did. And he's not been," Mr. Romney said.

He said median annual income has dropped by more than $4,000, while unemployment has remained above 8 percent, a figure he said doesn't take into account jobless people who have given up searching for a job.

"Americans in the middle class are feeling squeezed even if they have jobs," Mr. Romney said.

Mr. Romney took questions from 10 people, including a 7-year-old girl and a World War II veteran.

He said he would take advantage of an abundance of coal and natural gas and build the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to lower the costs of business.

If elected, he said he would issue an executive order to allow states to waive compliance with the national health-care law that Mr. Obama championed in 2009.

In remarks before Mr. Romney took the stage, Auditor of State Yost questioned President Obama's right to take credit for the killing of bin Laden one year ago.

"I'm glad that he is dead, bin Laden, that is. But it strikes me as a little weird. That's like giving Ronald McDonald credit for the Big Mac you had for lunch. Everybody knows it's really the guy at the grill that deserves the credit, right, not the pitchman on TV," Mr. Yost said to laughs.

Asked if Mr. Romney agreed with Mr. Yost, the Romney campaign said no, and released a recent statement Mr. Romney made on television that, "I acknowledge the President's success and think he has every right to take credit for him having ordered that attack."

Ohio Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern called on Mr. Yost and Mr. Romney to apologize.

"Disappointingly, Mitt Romney failed to show true leadership and correct Yost's shameful comment," Mr. Redfern said. "Yost's shameful words pathetically gloss over the strong leadership President Obama displayed when he took a significant risk in order to capture and kill one of the greatest threats to America."

A female questioner asked Mr. Romney what he would do to "restore the Constitution in this country," accusing President Obama of "operating outside the structure of our Constitution," and adding the opinion that Mr. Obama "should be tried for treason."

In his response, Mr. Romney called the Constitution "brilliant" and "inspired," and criticized Mr. Obama for saying it would be unprecedented for the Supreme Court to overturn a law enacted by Congress, in reference to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling.

In response later to questions from reporters as to whether he agreed with the treason remark, Mr. Romney replied, "No, of course not."

Mr. Romney added later to CNN: "I don't correct all of the questions that get asked of me. Obviously I don't agree that he should be tried."

Obama campaign spokesman Lis Smith said Mr. Romney failed to show leadership as a candidate.

"Time after time in this campaign, Mitt Romney has had the opportunity to show that he has the fortitude to stand up to hateful and over-the-line rhetoric, and time after time, he has failed to do so," Ms. Smith wrote in a statement.

One man asked Mr. Romney if he paid foreign income taxes. The man referred to what he said were $1.5 million foreign tax credits on Mr. Romney's 2010 tax return.

In response, Mr. Romney promised to look at the page cited by the man.

A spokesman said foreign income tax credits are taken by many Americans, including President Obama, on investments in businesses that had to pay taxes overseas.

To a questioner who asked about the high cost of education, Mr. Romney said "we can't promise money we don't have."

He said the country has to find a way to make colleges and universities more competitive to bring down costs.

The visit was Mr. Romney's seventh in Ohio this year, and the first since President Obama formally kicked off his own campaign with a rally at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University on Saturday.

Obama Ohio campaign spokesman Jessica Kershaw said Stamco Industries was an ironic choice of venue for the Romney campaign, because Stamco benefited from the President's $82 billion auto rescue program of 2009 that helped General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, and parts suppliers, to survive the recession, and which Mr. Romney opposed.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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