By Justin Sink - 09/05/12 10:11 PM EDT
Mitt Romney blasted the first day of the Democratic convention on Wednesday, saying that the effort by his political rivals was "so far a celebration of failure."
Romney and his allies have pounced on Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's comments over the weekend that Americans are not better off than they were four years ago. The top Democratic surrogate has since walked back those remarks, and officials with the Obama campaign have contended this week that Americans are better off under Obama's presidency.
But the Republican nominee brushed aside those assertions in an interview with Fox News, noting that the "better off" message hasn't been expressed from the stage in Charlotte, N.C.
Romney cited record numbers of Americans on food stamps, a rising national debt and declining incomes as evidence of a failed presidency.
"This has been a very difficult four years, and they’re doing their best to celebrate something; but it’s a celebration of failure," he reiterated.
Romney also criticized the removal of mentions of "God" and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the language of the Democratic platform.
Democrats amended their platform Wednesday afternoon to reinsert both passages, but Republicans have seized on the initial omissions — and a vocal minority on the convention floor opposed to the reinsertion — to bash Democrats. It appeared that the Romney interview was conducted before the platform was amended.
While Romney stopped short of saying the Democratic actions were part of a "war on religion," he did issue a sharp rebuke.
"I think their having removed purposefully God from their platform suggests a party which is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people," Romney said. "I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don’t recognize.”
He also accused Obama of changing positions on Israel.
"Well, when the president ran in 2008 he said that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. That was his posture at that point, that’s also been the posture in the Democratic platform," Romney said. "The president and his party have now changed their position. They now say that they are not certain what the capital of Israel might be. I find that one more example of Israel being thrown under the bus by the president."
Jerusalem's status is a major point of contention in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; while Israel names it as its capital city, Palestinians have said it would function as the head of an eventual independent state. The sides have agreed to resolve the conflict in peace negotiations, and the Obama administration — like administrations on both sides of the aisle before it — has said the issue should be resolved in talks.
In a statement later Wednesday, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul called on Obama to clarify his position on Jerusalem.
“Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," Saul said. "Although today’s voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”
During a press briefing earlier aboard Air Force One, press secretary Jay Carney brushed off suggestions the president's stance had changed.
"Let’s be clear. As President of the United States, the position on Jerusalem held by this administration, this president, is exactly the same position that presidents and administrations have held since 1967 — presidents of both parties, administrations of both parties," Carney said. "You certainly didn't hear leaders of the Republican Party during the George W. Bush administration saying that his position of his government that Jerusalem needed to be resolved in final status negotiations between the two parties — Israelis and Palestinians — was 'shameful.' I didn't hear Mitt Romney say that. I certainly didn't hear Paul Ryan say that."
But while Romney had tough words for the Democratic speeches and platform, he said he did not see first lady Michelle Obama's widely applauded address Tuesday night.
“I didn’t hear Michelle Obama’s speech, but I sure heard Ann’s; and it was great," Romney said.
Romney also swiped at Obama over grading himself as "incomplete" on the economy.
“Incomplete usually means that you’ve got to go back and take the course again," Romney said. "I don’t think the American people want to see this president get another four years."