MILFORD, New Hampshire Mitt Romney, a former venture capitalist who is the Republican presidential front-runner, derided the Occupy Wall Street movement on Monday as seeking "scapegoats" and risking dividing the country.
Romney responded to a question about the influence of big banks on Washington policy at a town hall meeting in Milford, New Hampshire, by addressing the protests that have spread nationwide over the past month.
"All the streets are connected. Wall Street is connected to Main Street," Romney said, adding that protesters are seeking "scapegoats to attack."
"Don't attack a whole class of Americans, whether they're rich or poor, white or black. This isn't the time for divisiveness."
A day before Republican candidates debate their solutions to the weak U.S. economy at Dartmouth College, Romney continued to attack President Barack Obama's handling of it.
Romney, a grandfather of 16, drew on a popular children's book series to describe Obama's job creation record.
"In some respects the Obama economy is the 'Where's Waldo?' economy. Finding a job in the 'Where's Waldo?' economy is harder than finding Waldo in one of his books," he said.
The former Massachusetts governor repeated his plan to raise defense spending, should he be elected president.
Romney also kept up a hard line on immigration, saying he would veto any bill offering in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. The issue has dogged Republican rival Rick Perry, governor of the border state of Texas.
"Why in the world would we want taxpayers in the United States to be paying a tuition credit for people who are here illegally," Romney said.
(Editing by Ros Krasny and Doina Chiacu)