Visions of 2012 as Romney unloads on Obama at conservative event

Visions of 2012 as Romney unloads on Obama at conservative event

Mitt Romney certainly sounded like a presidential candidate Saturday.

Speaking at the Values Voter Summit, the former Republican Massachusetts governor laid down a number of attacks on President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaRahm Emanuel: Sanders is 'stoppable' 5 takeaways from the Nevada caucuses Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community MORE’s record so far. The onetime presidential hopeful, often interrupted by applause from attendees, took shots at the Democratic administration for its handling of the economy, foreign affairs and healthcare reform.

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“Well, he can still spin a speech, but he can’t spin his record. I’ll bet you never dreamed you’d look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days,” Romney said about Obama.

After an August congressional recess that saw lawmakers pinned down at town hall meetings and thousands of demonstrators streaming into Washington last weekend, Republicans are more optimistic for their chances in the 2010 midterm elections. Romney tried to draw on the growing enthusiasm among conservative activists, speaking at the first conservative conference since the Sept. 12 march.

In the process, the 2008 competitor for the Republican presidential nomination seemed to be setting his stage for 2012.

Romney called the tea party protesters “patriots” who have often been derided by Democrats, and said they could block the president’s agenda.

“Thanks to millions of Americans who have stepped up in town halls and tea parties across the country, he’s not going to get his way,” Romney said.

The former governor predicted that the GOP will take the governor races in New Jersey and Virginia this year due to dissatisfaction with Obama and Democrats. Congress should expect more Republican lawmakers next election, Romney said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged the challenges faced by her party in a fundraising pitch for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, saying the 2010 congressional elections will be the "toughest midterm elections Democrats have ever faced."

But the Democratic National Committee swiftly reacted to Romney's speech Saturday. "If Mitt Romney thinks pandering to the far right is a winning strategy, that's his choice," said DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan. "Of course, it didn't work out so well for him last time. Maybe that's because given how often he changes his position on issues he has no credibility with the right. And given how often he's misrepresenting the truth he doesn't have much credibility with anyone else either."

In his roughly 20-minute speech before the summit, Romney attacked the president on a number of actions by his administration that have drawn GOP criticism.

He went after the stimulus package passed earlier to revamp the economy. “Not one new job has been created,” Romney said.

At one point, Romney mentioned Obama’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes on those making under $250,000. An attendee shouted “You lie!” — repeating Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonSchumer reminds colleagues to respect decorum at State of the Union speech US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Valerie Plame: 'I'm alarmed' over escalation with Iran MORE’s (R-S.C.) outburst against Obama during his healthcare reform speech to a joint session to Congress. That led to cheers from the crowd with Romney laughing, saying, “I approve that comment!”

Romney charged that Obama would double the national deficit in five years. That would unfairly saddle younger generations of Americans with so much debt, he argued.

“That is why I believe that this spending and borrowing in not just economically irresponsible, it is morally wrong,” he said.

He also criticized the investigation by Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderIf Roger Stone were a narco, he'd be in the clear Trump flexes pardon power with high-profile clemencies They forgot that under Trump, there are two sets of rules MORE into detainee abuses by CIA interrogators and said America should never have to apologize for its actions, like Romney alleged the president did on his trip abroad to Europe earlier this year.

Romney also went after the administration healthcare reform efforts, saying the public option — a government-run insurance program espoused by the president— is really a takeover of the private insurance industry by Washington.

Smooth and practiced in his address, Romney seems ready to run for the White House again in 2012. The former Massachusetts governor has not committed to another presidential run yet but Saturday’s speech was a step in that process.