Romney pivots to general election mode
March 30th, 2012
05:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Romney pivots to general election mode

Appleton, Wisconsin (CNN) – After a relatively quiet week, Mitt Romney shifted sharply into general election mode with a retooled speech Friday.

The GOP candidate – surrounded by an array of American flags arcing widely behind him onstage – assailed President Obama for moving Americans toward "a government-centered society" and called his economic strategy "a bust."

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"President Obama did not cause the recession but he most certainly failed to lead the recovery," Romney charged, ignoring his Republican opponents and instead setting up a clash between himself and the president in advance of the general election campaign to come.

Romney did not delve into policy specifics in his speech, which he read from teleprompters on the Lawrence University auditorium stage.

At several points he seemed to concede the economy had begun to recover, but charged the president had slowed that process – in an apparent effort to forestall the chance an improving economy could undercut his message.

"All in all, President Obama prolonged the recession and slowed the recovery," Romney said. "These troubling facts are President Obama's legacy and now our shared history and as much as we'd like to, we can't undo what's happened these past three years."

A spokesman for Obama's reelection campaign said the economic policies Romney had followed in Massachusetts "mirror those that created the economic crisis in the first place" and accused the Republican of mischaracterizing Obama's record.

"Mitt Romney's latest attempt to pivot to the general election offered little in the way of new solutions and more of the misleading rhetoric that has become par for the course for him," said spokeswoman Lis Smith. "Whether he is willfully ignoring the facts or rooting for failure, Mitt Romney's speech overlooked key facts about the economic progress we've made under President Obama's leadership."

Romney's appearance in Appleton was also notable for its enhanced security measures, as the Secret Service agents protecting the former governor stepped up security checks on the media and the general public attending the event.

A spokesman for the Secret Service would not comment on the changes.

Romney closed his address by returning to his general election theme, asking the Wisconsin audience to support him in that state's primary: "Join me, walk together this Tuesday, and take another step until Nov. 6," he said.

A poll showed Romney had reason for self-confidence in advance of the Badger State's Tuesday vote, where he is leading the GOP field. The former Massachusetts governor is also expected to perform well in the Republican contests in late April, which could help fuel his nomination push.

The White House hopeful was introduced by his newest high-profile supporter: Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a party up-and-comer and the author of the House Republicans' budget plan.

Ryan seemed to head off concerns by some that Romney has failed to fire up the Republican base.

"I'm excited," he said of Romney. "I'm encouraged. I'm enthused."

Though Romney did not mention his rivals, his campaign did obliquely poke at them by playing Kenny Rogers' song "The Gambler" before the event began. The song - which features the line "know when to fold 'em," was quoted by former President George H. W. Bush Thursday as he urged Republicans to coalesce around Romney.

Also see:

Kerry rallies democratic supporters by warning of 'swift boat' redux

Romney, Gingrich held private meeting

Bush asks about son's endorsement

RNC reserves vital cash for eventual GOP nominee

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. lib4

    My favorite line of this entire piece..."Romney did not delve into policy specifics in his speech, which he read from teleprompters on the Lawrence University auditorium stage"

    1. As usual the GOP offers NO specifics when talking about anything
    2. Reading off teleprompters is brilliant!!!

    March 30, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Mikey

    "President Obama did not cause the recession but he most certainly failed to lead the recovery,"
    Isn't this the third or fourth version of this line? He keeps changing it because he keeps getting caught in a lie. Obama did lead the country out of the recession. However, the Republicans in Congress did their level best to block him every step of the way, with the filabulster for the first two years and with their control of the House ever since. As Mitch McConnell and others said, their "number one priority was to make President Obama a one term President." Not to move the country forward. Not to help create jobs. Not to ease or shorten the suffering of the American people. But, instead, to use any means to regain the power of the presidency... and they have been true to their word.

    Romney would be in for a rude awakening as president. It is NOT like being a CEO. You cannot just order people to do what you want. Everyone doesn't run around kissing your behind and doing your bidding to get raises and promotions.

    March 30, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    He thinks he is going to win and turn us into corporatists (fascists). Look up the results of THAT kind of life for everyone but the very few. See if it's really what you want.

    March 30, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Nice picture. Mittens always laughs that hard when telling stories about all the layoffs his dad caused moving the plant from MI to WI.

    March 30, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. andy

    A little premature to assume that he will win the Wisconsin primary. He will look quite foolish if Santorum comes out on top.

    March 30, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  6. Four and The Door

    This is great to watch because Mitt will win. This is absolutely not the only reason Republicans are rallying around him, but it is first and foremost what is needed. When it's this critical you have to move it to the top of the list. Like what pilots are taught to do. Regardless of everything else that happening around you when you are in the the plane.

    March 30, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. The-Least-Unelectable

    First, "Obama made the recession worse"

    Later, "Obama isn't improving the economy fast enough."

    Next, "Obama is improving the economy too quickly."


    March 30, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    Wait a minute...I thought reading off teleprompters was BAD??? Isn't that what the brain-dead drones of the right always complain about Obama???? As for mittens's speech, it's time to shuffle the etch a sketch and go into "I'm a compassionate conservative who wants to work with all members of Congress" mode. Sorry Mittens, but you're "severe conservative" blunder earlier has you trapped. What next???

    March 30, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  9. gg

    isit romney#1 romney#2 or romney #3

    March 30, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Mittens did not cause the Bush republican near depression, but President Obama ended it.

    March 30, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Indy

    Americans toward "a government-centered society" and called his economic strategy "a bust."

    Speaking of "Bust" how many companies did Romney bankrupt right after he took out massive payments for Bain ?
    Mitt Romney: The Job Creamator

    March 30, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. Scef

    Memo to Mitt, just in,the dow had it's best 1st quarter in over a decade. The dow is at its highest levels since 2008 and the nasdaq since 2000. 4 million jobs created on BHO's watch, and my 401K is looking mighty good compared to 2008. All this despite an opposition who obstructed all efforts to move the country forward. Their aim, make BHO a one term pres, darn the pain of the struggling American public who they are supposed to represent. Their concern, party interest over America.

    March 30, 2012 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  13. Mike in Texas

    Keep moving the goalposts Mitt. Sad thing is there are many out there who believe Romney and think that he can lead them to a pot of gold. Obama said it was going to be a hard and long journey. I guess since Romney helped out Staples he can just press an "EASY" button and poof. Unemployment is 5%, balanced budget, $2.50 gas, home prices rising, no foreclosures, no middle east conflicts, etc, etc etc.

    Mitt has no plan other than tax cuts and more drilling. He is a blatant liar and has no backbone. He is out of touch with reality and thinks he is owed the Presidency. His budget will increase the deficit more than Obama's would too.

    March 30, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. CBR

    Mr. Romney continues "to dazzle" audiences with his campaign performances. The economy is recovering albeit slowly. If you look at the real picture you will note the improvements.

    The annoying part is not one Republican or politician who served in Congress when Bush led us into Iraq has stood up and admitted that Congress never voted on the funds to pay for that war. Democrat or Republican, they must take some responsibility for the mess we are in. President Bush might want to set the record straight as well. This is not a judgement on the validity of the war but a statement that the war was never paid for. Instead we just kept on going as if we had no financial obligations resulting in huge deficits.

    March 30, 2012 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. once upon a horse

    I thought he wasn't supposed to do that until November when he shakes himself for the redo. Mitt Romney has so many faces that I am shocked that he hasn't run into himself yet. Probably talks to one of those faces though.

    March 30, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  16. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    It do not matter which mode he is in. Plastic mode lie mode false mode. He is going to loose. Obama / biden 2012. It do not realy matter

    March 30, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Larry L

    A quick little shake of the Etch-A-Sketch and he's a new man! I'm curious how Romney can embrace the Ryan Plan to essentially kill Medicare and Social Security, and sell that idea to the huge population of Baby Boomers who will need these terrific programs. It's clear that plan is designed to balance the books on the backs of working people, but Social Security and Medicare? Good luck with that fascist concept.

    March 30, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |