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Romney: Obama is 'Great Divider,' Doesn't Get How Economy Works

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Dec. 17, 2011: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters during a town hall meeting at Memminger Auditorium in Charleston, S.C. (AP)

Anticipating attacks from Democrats who intend to portray him as a greedy capitalist, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Sunday it's unfortunate -- but not surprising -- that President Obama's reelection strategy aims to demonize success and target job creators.

"Of course he will, in part because he's been the great divider. This is the president who goes after anybody who's successful," Romney said.

Speaking to "Fox News Sunday" in his first interview on a Sunday news show in two years, the former Massachusetts governor and head of venture capital firm, Bain Capital, said Democrats are already casting him as Gordon Gecko, the antihero in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" movies who famously delivered the line "greed is good." 

But Romney said entrepreneurs aren't heartless Scrooges in business only to strip people of their jobs in the hunt for profits.

"I know that there's going to be every effort to put free enterprise on trial and to attack free enterprise, to attack people who work in free enterprise, to attack those who believe that profit is good," he continued. "A profit in an enterprise is better than loss. Loss means jobs are going to be lost. ... I hope to see General Motors as a profitable and successful enterprise again so that jobs can be spared."

He added that he's happy to match his record at job creation against President Obama's.

"(Obama's) great failing is he does not understand how this economy works and how his policies have made it harder for this economy to put Americans back to work," Romney said.

"I do know how the economy works, and my policies are designed to get people what they desperately want, not care for being poor. They want to stop being poor, have a good job, and have a bright future," he said.

Romney, a multimillionaire whose work at Bain Capital included the creation of successes like Staples, which employ 90,000 people, and the failure of GS Industries, a group of steel mills that went bankrupt, said his company's intention in "every case was to either help people realize their dreams by starting a business, or taking a business that was failing or underperforming and making it more successful.

That free-market system often calls for "creative destruction," he said, or the collapse of one industry in the name of progress that enriches the entire society. 

"My business was not buying things, taking them apart, closing them down. My business was associated with trying to make enterprises more successful. Not always was I able to succeed, but in each case, we tried to grow an enterprise, and in doing so, hopefully provide a better future for those that are associated with that enterprise," he said.

Romney said when is on the campaign trail talking to business leaders, he asks whether the current administration has helped them hire more people or be more successful. He said he never sees a single hand raised in the audience in response. 

"His policies have hurt, not helped," he said.  

Romney said part of the problem may be Obama's leadership style. Obama has not met with Republicans in five months, but has instead gone on "constant attack either against Republicans or against people in the business world or whatever group he somehow feels is opposed to his agenda."

"Leaders actually spend time meeting with people on the other side of the aisle, understand their needs, understand their concerns, get their input and look for some way to find common ground," he said. "We need a leader who understands not just the words of unity but the practice of building unity."

On Saturday after much back-and-forth with Congress, Obama said he was pleased with the move by Senate Democrats to compromise on a payroll tax cut bill that funded a tax break for 160 million Americans without raising taxes on millionaires and with the inclusion of provisions regarding Keystone XL pipeline. The legislation passed 89-10, but House Republicans say they oppose the plan because they want the tax cut to last 12 months and be paid for.

Romney said he doesn't want to criticize everything the president has done, but his economic policies have made it "more difficult for this economy to reboot."

He added that while the president gets the credit for killing Usama bin Laden and claims to have stopped another Great Depression, most of his rhetoric is "hollow."

"With regards to Usama bin Laden, we're delighted that he gave the order," Romney said. "Any president would have done that."

As for Newt Gingrich, Romney's chief rival in the GOP primary process, the candidate said that the point of the campaign is to point out differences, and his biggest differences relate to Gingrich's opposition to Medicare reform proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and his standing with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to back climate change policy

"The speaker said this is right-wing social engineering. Talk about unreliable. At a critical time, he cut the legs out from underneath a very important message."

Romney said he also stands by his description of Gingrich as "zany."

"And zany, I don't think you would call mirrors in space to light highways at night particularly practical, or a lunar colony a practical idea, not at a stage like this," he said. 

On Saturday, the Des Moines Register announced it was endorsing Romney for the GOP nomination. Gingrich on Sunday said he's fine with that arrangement since he already won the endorsement of the Manchester, N.H., Union Leader.

"I'm actually delighted because the Manchester Union Leader, which is a reliably conservative newspaper, endorsed me. The Des Moines Register, which is a solidly liberal newspaper, did not endorse me. I think that indicates who the conservative in this race is," Gingrich told CBS' "Face the Nation."