Gamesmanship abounds as Obama, Romney campaigns duel over jobs

BOSTON/FREMONT, California Thu May 31, 2012 6:20pm EDT

1 of 3. Supporters of President Barack Obama hold signs outside the Massachusetts State House before the start of a news conference in Boston, Massachusetts May 31, 2012. Obama's campaign attacked Republican rival Mitt Romney on Thursday for failing to create jobs as Massachusetts governor, calling it more evidence of a flawed economic approach that would be disastrous in the White House.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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BOSTON/FREMONT, California (Reuters) - The campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney took their political gamesmanship up a notch on Thursday, with dueling events that featured raucous heckling, a secret trip for reporters and symbolic backdrops that reflected the increasing intensity of the tight race for the White House.

Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod invaded Romney's home turf, blasting the Republican's record as Massachusetts governor at an appearance in Boston where Axelrod frequently was interrupted by an organized crowd of heckling Romney supporters.

Romney retaliated a few hours later with an unannounced trip to the California headquarters of Solyndra, a solar panel company that went bankrupt despite receiving $535 million in loan guarantees from the Obama administration.

Romney's campaign went to great lengths to avoid the sort of heckling that greeted Axelrod, keeping the candidate's visit to Solyndra secret even from his traveling press corps until reporters were boarding the bus for the event.

"You saw what happened in Boston today," a senior Romney adviser said when asked about the secrecy.

The scenes on each coast highlighted the campaigns' battle of messages over jobs and the economy.

In Boston, Obama's camp argued that Romney's experience in Massachusetts was among many signs of the former governor's flawed favoritism of the wealthy.

Before a crowd outside the Massachusetts statehouse, Axelrod noted that the state ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation during Romney's four years as governor, from 2003 to 2007. He said the state's long-term debt grew and Romney broke a tax-cutting pledge by raising a range of fees that mostly hurt the middle class.

"Romney economics didn't work then and it won't work now," Axelrod said, straining to be heard over a group of chanting and heckling supporters organized by the Romney campaign.

Romney countered Axelrod's attack with the visit to Solyndra, which he said was evidence of Obama's poor economic leadership and his failure to understand how a free-market economy works.

"Free enterprise to the president means taking money from the taxpayers and giving it freely to his friends," Romney told reporters outside Solyndra's headquarters in Fremont, California.

"If the business had done spectacularly well, the shareholders - his friends - would have done very, very well but the taxpayers would have just gotten their money back," he said.

"On the other hand, of course, if the business failed, as it did, it's the taxpayers that get stuck with losing a half a billion dollars. So it's heads and his cronies win, and tails and the taxpayers lose."

Romney, who has said his real-world business experience makes him uniquely qualified to turn around the sluggish economy, said Massachusetts' unemployment rate had dropped to 4.7 percent while he was governor.

"My guess is the people of America would be very pleased if they could see a number like 4.7 percent," Romney said.


The exchanges on jobs and the economy, which polls show is the main concern of voters, came the day before the federal government releases its May jobs report. The U.S. unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April, when job growth slowed sharply.

Romney clinched the Republican nomination this week with a victory in the Texas primary, although the race had been over for weeks as his remaining rivals suspended their campaigns.

Polls show Romney and Obama running neck and neck nationwide and in many of the crucial battleground states that will be essential to gathering the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House.

A NBC/Marist College poll released on Thursday showed Romney and Obama virtually deadlocked in three politically divided states - Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.

The Obama campaign has hit Romney hard for his years as head of the Bain Capital private equity fund, accusing it of bleeding jobs from companies to maximize profits before, in some cases, shutting them down.

The criticism has worried some Democrats who fear the attacks could turn off independent voters and be seen as criticism of free enterprise.

In Boston, Axelrod was joined on stage by a mix of Massachusetts Democrats, some of whom had served under Romney. Axelrod said manufacturing jobs disappeared during Romney's tenure at twice the national rate and that Romney had been about "taking what he can when he can."

He was frequently interrupted by the hecklers, who at times chanted "So-lyn-dra, So-lyn-dra."

Pointing to the hecklers, Axelrod said they were perhaps Romney's only backers in the state, where opinion polls show Obama with a big lead.

"It's a harsh judgment from the people who have come to know him best," Axelrod said.

At Solyndra, Romney defended the Boston hecklers and noted that he has been subjected to similar interruptions on the campaign trail by Obama supporters.

"Many of the events I go to, there are large groups of, if you will, Obama supporters there heckling me. And at some point you say, you know what, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," Romney said. "If they're going to be heckling us, why, we're not going to sit back and play by very different rules."

A senior adviser denied Romney's campaign was being paranoid in being so secretive about the visit to the Solyndra plant.

"Look, it's clear that they don't like questions being raised about Solyndra," the adviser said of Obama's campaign. "We're going to go right to the location itself. We thought the best way to do it would be with as little advance notice as possible."

(Writing by John Whitesides.; Editing by David Lindsey and Christopher Wilson)

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Comments (42)
ExRepublican2 wrote:
Former Massachusetts Governor Romoney believed in new taxes for the working class residents, Massachusetts was well known as Taxachusetts.

Mr. Romney stated: “Corporations are people.” That is his family, money and vision for the wealthy working class. All the while his wealthy big corporations are lying off American workers, Human Resources will tell you: “this isn’t personal, it’s business.” All Americans think… “United we Stand. ” I will not join the AARP until it stops doing business with Big Businesses (Insurance Companies i.e. the Hartford Ins.) who out sources American workers for foreign India workers, etc. If people would stop joining, we would see corporations respect American workers, because… people are standing united against this abuse of corporate power. Hey, this isn’t personal; it’s the only business, big business understands.

OMG… Ex- Gov. Romney passed into law the Massachusetts Health Care bill, which forces the poor and middle class to obtain health insurance whether they can afford it or not! He taxed to death the state residents to fund the largest tunnel built leading into Boston. Now, the western half of his state’s infrastructure (Bridges and Roadways) are decaying, so commerce is not in its’ best shape.

When retail gasoline outlets post $5 per gallon before July and thereafter $5.75 per gallon end of August into September, just before the presidential election, the wealthy right wing Big Oil Companies will have crushed the American economy. Stocks will loose what the wealthy middle class has feared most, reaching into their retirement savings.

Greed has overtaken common sense to do the right things, back when businesses paid taxes and not seek loop holes… example, when employers fraudulently lay off their American workers and then reclassify their job title, same tasks with additional work. The laid off worker has to reapply for their same job at a lower starting wage (up to 50% less). It gets worst for the working class taxpayers; employers receive a new hire tax break on rehires (tempts)!! The government does not record the employers laid off workers vs. new hires or what the laid off worker’s income was vs. the re-hire’s starting wages (same employee trying to keep their job reapplying for the same work). This is employment fraud!!! There isn’t one Federal Judge who will put a stop to this abusive business conduct. Companies are notorious for giving their employees an average cost of living increase only to nullify it by cutting back your work hours or suspending any future wage increases for several years.

Politicians are just as blind when towns and other states give big businesses property tax breaks for 5 to 10 years just to acquire them. That is morally wrong and should be illegal. After these new companies establish themselves in those towns, they end up hiring very few locals’ vs. relocating their faithfully following employees to the new state’s town. It gets worst, after their tax exemption of five or ten years expires, they threaten to move away if the towns or states don’t extend their tax exemption. Tax breaks for big businesses needs to be outlaw by every State in the Union. This is the only way to break the ‘No Tax Cycle’ of big businesses, which are financially hurting states and towns with their perfected method!

Who do you think pays for Fire, Police and Teachers services? American home owners, and with the town officials passing the tax burden onto them with higher property taxes, this will financially hurt everyone. In addition to higher mortgages and the higher property tax on the middle class, one can see why the housing bubble crashed in 2009. And, now those towns are worried about the failing infrastructure? Stop the madness because everyone has to pay taxes!!! Especially, businesses that are seeking property tax breaks from states and towns. If every state agreed to stop this nonsense, the US would be in the best financial economic shape and with the greatest infrastructure for commerce.

Just read a Google news posting: Romney swipes at Obama’s foreign policies. Funny that coming from the mouth of a Massachusetts governor who’s state is was the terrorist boarded aircraft from Boston Logan Airport during 9/11 and the destructive results caused national security to change it’s airport screening policies… especially at Boston Logan. Mr. Romney failed to have any insight and state protective measures against foreigners from boarding US aircraft. Is Boston Logan state run or private, doesn’t matter, the state of Massachusetts should of had stricter boarding policies in place back then!

May 31, 2012 1:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
froberts wrote:
Instead of politicians spending so much time and money bashing each other, I think what Americans want to hear is good ideas on how to fix the problems that are eroding our nation. Enough finger pointing. I will vote for the person with positive ideas, not negative rhetoric. Tell me what you can do, not what the other guy can’t.

May 31, 2012 1:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Brain wrote:
OMG – Obama Must Go – and so should the rest of the democrats. The Obama administration has lied to Americans, again and again – and they have the audacity to attack Romney?
Today it was announced that they gave false numbers about unemployement, about 1st quarter growth, 1st qrt GDP – practically everything! All this just to increase Obama’s popularity.
Today, when the truth was revealed, the stock market has crashed and billions have been lost. In fact, if you notice, everything Obama talks to the press or says something, the stock market goes way down. If nothing comes out of the administration for a few days…..stocks rise. Make a note of it and see this amazing relationship. It’s all bad news with this administration! Why lie about the numbers?

And they are after Romney because of Bain? Because he closed companies that were in red and had no chance of survival? Well, that’s how you do it. When a company isn’t going to make it, you take the bold decision to stop bleeding your money into it and close it down and go to the next venture and make that one profitable. I can see what the democrats would do – they would increase taxes and take that money and put it into a losing proposition. Look at all the socialist policies they are running that are draining our money! OMG

May 31, 2012 1:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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