Joe Hanel/ Durango Herald
Joe Hanel/ Durango Herald
GOLDEN – Seeking to refocus his presidential campaign on middle-class voters, Republican Mitt Romney unveiled new themes and a criticism of President Barack Obama on Thursday in Golden.
The former Massachusetts governor released a “report card” that grades him and Obama on their management of the economy. Jobs, incomes and home prices all rose during Romney’s term as governor and have fallen during Obama’s presidency, he said.
“I understand that it’s small businesses that create jobs for America, that people create jobs, not government. And I’m going to get America working again,” he said, drawing loud applause and chants of “Go Mitt!”
It was Romney’s first visit, since becoming the de facto Republican nominee, to Denver’s suburbs, where hundreds of thousands of unaffiliated voters are likely to choose the winner of Colorado’s nine electoral votes.
Romney spoke in front of a new backdrop, a large blue sign that read “The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class.”
That plan includes five general points, starting with energy independence for the United States, Canada and Mexico by the year 2020. He would do that by speeding up drilling permits and loosening regulations on the coal industry.
“This is not just hope,” Romney said. “This is not just an idea. This is energy independence for North America.”
He said all forms of energy will have a place, although his critics were quick to point out that Romney wants to end a tax credit for wind energy that producers say is crucial to keeping the wind industry in business.
Other points in the plan include education and job training, free trade, cutting the deficit and reducing taxes and regulations on small businesses.
The policies are the same ones Romney has promoted for more than a year, but the campaign is reintroducing them now that more voters are paying attention, Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said in a conference call Thursday morning.
A day earlier, an independent report showed Romney would have to eliminate middle-class tax breaks if he will be able to cut taxes without raising the deficit, as he has promised.
In an Ohio campaign rally, President Barack Obama seized on the report by the Tax Policy Center and Brookings Institution.
“He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut,” Obama said.
Fehrnstrom dismissed the report as “a joke” that was written by partisans. Pressed for details about Romney’s tax plan, his advisers said the plan lays out a framework, and Congress would have to work out details before it could be analyzed in depth.
Romney met with several Republican governors later Thursday in Basalt. Obama is expected to campaign in Colorado next Wednesday and Thursday.
Joe Hanel/Durango Herald