Lorain, OH - One day after Barack Obama's trip to the Cleveland area, Mitt Romney attacked the president for failing to follow through on his 2008 campaign promises, and said Obama's "vision" has led to economic distress.
"If you want to know where his vision leads, open your eyes, 'cause we've been living it for the last three years," Romney said to about 300 people gathered at a shuttered drywall factory in Lorain, Ohio. "It leads to lost jobs, lost homes, lost dreams. It's time to end that vision and have a vision of growth and jobs and economic vitality."
The speech served as a rebuttal to remarks made by the President Wednesday - part of a larger bracketing strategy the Romney campaign has employed in recent days. Through a number of speeches Romney is trying to shape an argument against the President for the general election - that Obama has failed to deliver on his campaign rhetoric to return prosperity and jobs to a slumping America.
The choice of venue Thursday - a drywall plant shuttered in June 2008 under President George W. Bush, resulting in 58 people losing their jobs - was no accident. Then candidate Obama spoke here days before Ohio's primary in March of 2008, and just months before the plant was closed.
More than 6 months out from Election Day, Ohio is already heating up as a critical battleground state - the President has visited five times since January while Romney spent several weeks criss-crossing the state before winning last month's primary.
Romney's speech today attempted to lay the blame for the depressed economy squarely on President Obama, arguing that factories like this would not remain closed during a Romney presidency. "Had the President's economic plans worked - President Obama's plans work - it would be open by now."
But the economic picture in this state is at odds with the picture Romney is painting - steady growth has brought the unemployment level down to 7.6 percent, below the national average of 8.2 percent. When President Obama took office in 2009, 8.9 percent of Ohioans were out of work.
"In a speech that he concluded by saying he'd ‘tell the truth,' Mitt Romney actually didn't tell the truth about President Obama's record," Obama Campaign spokesperson Lis Smith in an emailed statement. "Mitt Romney is building quite a record of giving speeches filled with distortions and fabrications."
When asked if a lower unemployment rate today means the President's policies are in fact working, senior Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom said: "Unemployment here is still unacceptably high, foreclosures are too high, the price of gas is too high, there are too many people out of work, there are too many people who have just stopped looking for work because they've grown so discouraged. This is not something that anybody should feel proud about, certainly not this president."