By Justin Sink
Mitt Romney returned to Michigan Tuesday with a retooled stump speech that included blistering new attacks on President Obama's economic record, calling the president's platform "a throwback to the discredited policies of the past."
Romney went on to lampoon a new website from the Obama campaign — which uses a fictionalized woman named Julia to illustrate how the president's policies help female voters — as a "cartoon."
"What does it say about a president's policies when he has to use a cartoon character rather than real people to justify his record? What does it say about the fiction of old liberalism to insist that good jobs and good schools and good wages will result from policies that have failed us, time and again?"
In his speech, Romney was looking to pivot off a shaky start to his week of campaigning on Monday. The Obama campaign pounced on controversial comments made by Romney supporters in Ohio, including a woman who told the presumptive Republican candidate that the president should be tried for treason. But back in the state where Romney's father served as a popular governor — and that dealt him a crucial win to stave off Rick Santorum's challenge in the Republican primary — Romney spoke confidently from prepared remarks and with renewed emphasis on the president's economic record.
The former Massachusetts governor sought to paint a picture of Obama seeking "to apply liberal ideas of the past to the 21st century."
Romney contrasted the president's platform on welfare and healthcare to former President Clinton's, arguing the previous Democratic president had recognized that "old-school liberal" policies and expansive government were outdated.
"President Clinton said the era of big government was over. President Obama brought it back with a vengeance," Romney said.
He also played off Obama's new campaign slogan, declaring America "headed in the wrong direction. Not forward, but sideways, or worse."
"For a lot of folks, things like vacations, movies, and restaurants are things of the past … his four years have been a disappointment for all of us and a catastrophe for some of us," Romney said.
Romney's speech mostly avoided the hot-button campaign controversies of the day, focusing instead on an attack of the president's record. Although he mentioned the effect that the shuttering of the Oldsmobile automobile brand had on the East Lansing community, he did not reiterate his claim, made in Ohio Monday evening, that he would "take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back."
That assertion drew howls from the Obama campaign, who argued the recovery of the American auto industry would have been impossible without loans championed by the president and opposed by Romney.
"Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should 'let Detroit go bankrupt,' but the American people won't let him," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said in a statement released by the Obama campaign. "His comments today that he will 'take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back' are a new low in dishonesty, even for him. Mitt Romney seems to think Americans will just forget the past and his very vocal and clear opposition to the successful auto rescue."
The Obama campaign hit that theme again in a statement released following Romney's remarks.
"Mitt Romney didn’t have the courage to bet on American workers and instead said that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt.’ Despite his best efforts to etch-a-sketch this position, he can’t shake away the fact that if he’d had his way, the American auto industry and the millions of jobs it supports would have been devastated," Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
But Romney argued his policies would usher in further success in the private sector.
"This is a time for new ideas, new answers and a new direction. That is the only way that our future can be better than the past," Romney said.
This post has been corrected to reflect that Romney spoke in Lansing, Mich., not East Lansing, Mich.