Rockland, MI - Seizing on a change of subject, Mitt Romney placed the economy squarely in the spotlight today - labeling former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum the consummate Washington insider who has never held a job outside government.
"Senator Santorum is a nice guy but he's never had a job in the private sector," Romney said at a rally. "He's worked as a lobbyist and worked as an elected official, and that's fine. But if the issue of the day is the economy, I think to create jobs it helps to have a guy as President who's had a job."
Romney went on to say "I've spent 25 years in the business. I understand what happens to corporate profit - where it goes if the government takes it. This is what I've done throughout my life."
The attacks came in response to an editorial penned by Mr. Santorum in the Wall Street Journal. Titled "My Economic Freedom Agenda", Mr. Santorum laid out his path to economic stability and slammed the former Massachusetts Governor for being a "last minute" convert to free market capitalism.
"Attempting to distract from his record of tax and fee increases as governor of Massachusetts, poor job creation, and aggressive pursuit of earmarks, he now says he wants to follow my lead and lower individual as well as corporate marginal tax rates," Senator Santorum wrote, in a nod to Mr. Romney's new plan, revealed last week, to reduce marginal tax rates by twenty percent. "It's a good start. But it doesn't go nearly far enough."
The pivot to economic issues comes after days of Romney trying to bolster his social conservative credentials against Santorum. Recent polls show the race is close in Michigan, and the change of topic could help strengthen Romney's position as the "jobs" candidate in a state where the unemployment rate remains above the national average. With the contest in Michigan becoming increasingly more caustic, a new narrative could be just what the Romney campaign is looking for.