SIOUX CITY, Iowa Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama has failed to fulfill his promises in part because he does not understand what it takes to ignite a more robust economic recovery.
Resuming campaigning after a hiatus during the Democratic National Convention, Romney impugned Obama's competence, not his effort, the day after Obama accepted his partys nomination for president.
This president tried, but he didnt understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do, Romney told 4,000 supporters at Northwest College in Orange City, the heart of Iowas GOP-heavy west.
Entering the fall stretch to the Nov. 6 election, Romney is concentrating on Obamas performance, said aides, to counter what they say are negative depictions of the Republican in Obama campaign ads.
Its also a way to keep the pressure on Obama, without assailing him personally. Although Obama is in a tight battle for re-election, a slight majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of him personally.
In an Associated Press-GfK poll last month, 52 percent of registered voters said they had a favorable opinion of the president, while 46 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
But on the question of who they trusted to do a better job handling the economy, Romney came out on top, 48 percent to Obamas 44 percent. A Washington Post/ABC News poll taken last month showed 56 percent of voters disapproved of Obamas handling of the economy, and 43 percent approved.
That poses a challenge for Romney, who is asking voters to fire a president many of them like. So Romney, who also must change the minds of millions of Obama supporters from 2008 to win, is careful not to insult those voters.
Instead, he characterized Obama as having disappointed supporters who expected more.
Weak job growth in August, as the Labor Department reported Friday, provided more fuel for Romney.
Theres almost nothing the presidents done in the last three and a half, four years to give the American people confidence he knows what hes doing when it comes to jobs and the economy, Romney told reporters before the event.
Obamas team, in turn, hopes to use the presidents favorable personal rating to make him look caring. They point to a line in the speech former President Bill Clinton delivered at the Democratic convention: I want to nominate a man whos cool on the outside but who burns for America on the inside.
Obama aides think they can counter the incompetence argument by fleshing out old policy proposals with fresh measurable goals, hoping it shows his sense of determination.
Romney said his campaign achieved one of its goals for the Republican convention in Florida last week, which was to make Romney more personable. Much of the convention amounted to a parade by family members, led by his wife, Ann, as well as personal, church and political associates vouching for his character. It was a strong counter to the image painted of him in Obama ads: A wealthy, uncaring businessman who is out of touch.
In that way, Romney did not hesitate to criticize Obamas campaign, but again stopped short of calling into question Obamas character.
Its been a campaign of pitting one American against another, Romney said. And its so contrary to our national history and our national spirit.