Hillsborough, N.H. (CNN) - Mitt Romney knows the chances of California going for him in November are slim, so why not call the state out as an example of economic policy gone awry?
A day after musing over a move to low-tax haven Florida, Romney–who owns a home in La Jolla, California–cast the Golden State as a cautionary tale for overtaxing and overspending.
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On a Friday conference call he told swing-state voters that the 2012 election gave them a choice over the country's economic future.
"You could either be like the America that we've known in our past, which is having low taxes and high growth and a strong economy," Romney said. "Or you could try to be like California, where they raise taxes higher and higher and higher."
Romney said California's policies "scare away employers. They make it harder for entrepreneurs to grow and thrive in their state. And they have huge deficits. The deficits in California get worse and worse."
California's budget deficit has reached an eye-popping $16 billion, the state's governor acknowledged this week.
A day earlier, on Thursday, Romney told voters in Jacksonville, Florida that his wife Ann had a soft spot for the battleground Sunshine State.
"She has said someday, who knows, we might move to Florida," he said to cheers from the audience. "You never know. Someday, way down the road."
He later assured reporters that he and his wife "love California," but added: "There are attractions to Florida. It has the right tax rate, among others."
Florida does not levy a state income tax.
- CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.