Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney addressed the Occupy Wall Street protest movement Monday, saying the ongoing demonstrations were triggered by people looking for "scapegoats to attack."
Romney, like many of the other GOP presidential candidates, including Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, indicated he thinks the movement has gone off course by focusing its ire on Wall Street.
"Don't attack a whole class of Americans, whether they're rich or poor, white or black. This isn't the time for divisiveness,” Romney said, speaking at a town hall in New Hampshire.
“I’ve been really disappointed and in some respects a little frightened by the president’s rhetoric — trying to find someone to blame,” Romney said.
Romney debuted a new line he’s likely to use again soon in an upcoming debate, saying “the Obama economy is a ‘Where’s Waldo’ economy.”
“Finding a good-paying job in this economy is harder than finding Waldo in one of his books," he said.
Romney has campaigned largely on his private business experience as qualifying him to address the economy.
“Let’s not fight any street in America,” Romney said, drawing a distinction between “bad actors” and representative groups or classes.
“Wall Street is connected to Main Street,” he added, making the same argument about labor workers and unions.
“I consider the CEOs of organized labor not to be my big buddies,” Romney said. “I consider the rank and file of organized labor to be my buddies.”
Romney delivered a campaign speech focused on labor issues at the beginning of September, and announced that he would make it a priority during the first days of his presidency to implement a secret ballot in order to guarantee workers the option not to unionize.
Romney's campaign announced he would hold two town-hall events in New Hampshire on Monday ahead of the next GOP debate scheduled to be held there Tuesday evening and televised on Bloomberg Television. Debate organizers have billed the debate as the first forum to focus exclusively on economic issues.
Romney held a strong lead, with 38 percent, in a poll released Monday of New Hampshire voters by Harvard University and St. Anselm College. He remains the front-runner candidate in nationwide polls.
He retained a smaller lead over the other candidates when voters were asked which potential nominee would do the most to improve the economy in Monday’s new survey from debate hosts Bloomberg News and The Washington Post. Romney won 22 percent, with fellow former businessman Cain taking second place with 20 percent.