(CNN) - Mitt Romney chose to ignore his GOP rivals at an event in New Hampshire Saturday, opting instead to issue a sharp line of attack against President Barack Obama.
Romney, who is running well ahead of his competitors in the Granite State, said Obama would be remembered only as a “footnote” in history.
“I was asked yesterday by a reporter how the president would be remembered in history,” Romney said. “I said as a footnote in history. We have major challenges and he hasn’t dealt with them. We have a debt problem. What’s he done about it? Made it worse!”
Even if Obama were to lose re-election next November, he will have made history as the first African-American elected president.
Romney appeared at the event on New Hampshire’s seacoast, taking a quick detour from campaigning in Iowa to shake hands and meet voters in the town of Hampton. Romney was introduced by two key backers in New Hampshire: former Gov. John H. Sununu and former Sen. Judd Gregg.
Romney’s decision to forgo attacks on his GOP rivals reflects the comfortable leads he’s established in the site of the first-in-the-nation primary. A CNN/Time/ORC International poll taken December 21-27 shows Romney running more than twenty points ahead of his closest competitor. Romney got the support of 44% of likely GOP primary voters, while Ron Paul, who was in second, garnered 17%.
Speaking about Obama, Romney painted the incumbent as someone without the skills required to improve America’s stalled economy.
“I don’t think he’s a bad guy, I think he’s overwhelmed and over his head,” Romney said.
Of particular concern to Romney was what he said was a lack of action on reforming government programs Medicaid and Medicare to make then financially sustainable.
“How can he be a president for three years, knowing these programs have to updated, and propose nothing?” Romney wondered.
The former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate said Obama’s view of the country was making it tough for the U.S. to rebound economically.
“I love America, I believe in America, I believe the principles that made America such a powerful nation are the principles that will keep us a powerful and strong nation,” Romney said. “I watch our president, I think because he does not understand the power of those principles, he has taken action that has made it harder for America to come out of a deep economic recession.”
Romney said “almost everything he did made it harder for entrepreneurs and risk takers to decide to move ahead and take risks and build their enterprise and to hire people.”
Romney returns to Iowa Saturday afternoon, holding events in the western part of the state.