By Justin Sink - 07/17/12 06:07 PM EDT
Mitt Romney seized Tuesday on recent remarks by President Obama to amp up his portrayal of an anti-business White House out of touch with the economy.
Romney criticized as "startling and revealing" Obama's remarks about the role of the public sector in infrastructure investments, in which the president, discussing roads and bridges, said, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that."
"The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn't build Apple, that Henry Ford didn't build Ford Motors, that Papa John didn't build Papa John's ... it's not just foolishness, it's insulting to every entrepreneur in America," Romney said.
"We have seen what Obama's political philosophy brings and we don't want any more of it," Romney said.
The Obama campaign Tuesday said Romney's criticism was "over-the-top" in a statement, and defended the president's comments on infrastructure.
"As President Obama said the other day, those who start businesses succeed because of their individual initiative — their drive, hard work, and creativity," said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith in a statement. "But there are critical actions we must take to support businesses and encourage new ones — that means we need the best infrastructure, a good education system, and affordable, domestic sources of clean energy. Those are investments we make not as individuals, but as Americans, and our nation benefits from them. Apparently Mitt Romney disagrees.”
Smith added that the Obama campaign saw the attacks as an attempt to distract from mounting pressure over Romney's tax records and his background at the private-equity firm Bain Capital in recent weeks. On Tuesday, Romney looked to turn the tables, accusing the president of attacking successful industry.
"President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success," Romney said.
Romney also indirectly referenced the controversy swirling around when he left Bain Capital — and whether the firm invested in companies that outsourced jobs during his tenure — saying it was the latest in a long line of examples where the president sought to shift blame for a struggling economy.
"He's looking around for someone to blame. Recently I became the problem," Romney said.
The Republican hopeful also accused the president of practicing "crony capitalism," arguing the Obama administration had ushered in a system of government where "based on who you know in government, who's a friend, you get money, you get taxpayer dollars."
"I'm ashamed to say that we're seeing our president hand out money to the businesses of campaign contributors," Romney said, accusing the president of a "foreign" way of understanding business.
"That kind of crony capitalism does not create jobs," Romney continued, drawing cheers from the Irwin, Pa., crowd.
Romney's stump speech was the latest push by Republicans to shift the national political narrative away from Romney's tenure at Bain and mounting calls for the presumptive GOP candidate to release additional tax returns. Earlier in the day, top Romney surrogate John H. Sununu blasted the president as coming from a "felon environment" in Chicago and suggesting the president should "learn how to be an American" on a conference call with reporters.
Following that call, the Obama campaign accused the Romney camp of a "meltdown" and continued to hammer Romney on Bain.
“The Romney campaign has officially gone off the deep end," Smith said. "The question is what else they’ll pull to avoid answering serious questions about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and investments in foreign tax havens and offshore accounts. This meltdown and over-the-top rhetoric won’t make things better — it only calls attention to how desperate they are to change the conversation.”