* Obama campaign says Romney was failure as governor
* Obama strategist makes raucous appearance in Boston
By Ros Krasny
BOSTON, May 31 President Barack 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
After weeks of criticizing Romney for plundering companies
and slashing jobs while leading a private equity firm, Obama's
campaign shifted its attacks to Romney's work in Massachusetts
and said his experience did not qualify him to lead.
At a raucous appearance outside the Massachusetts
statehouse, Obama strategist David Axelrod noted the state
ranked 47th in job creation during Romney's four years as
governor, while long-term state debt grew. He said Romney also
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 Romney supporters on his former turf in Boston.
Pointing to the hecklers, Axelrod said they were perhaps
Romney's only backers in the state. Opinion polls show Obama
with a big lead over Romney in Massachusetts. "It's a harsh
judgment from the people who have come to know him best,"
Romney's campaign quickly fired back, pointing out the state
unemployment rate dropped under Romney and accusing Obama of
trying to change the subject from his own poor jobs record.
"Only President Obama, who has failed to meet his own goal
of 6 percent unemployment, would have the audacity to attack
Mitt Romney's record of creating jobs," Romney spokeswoman
Andrea Saul said.
The exchange on jobs and the economy, which polls show is
the top concern of American voters, comes one day before the
release of the federal government's May jobs report. The U.S.
unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in April, when job growth
Romney, who is campaigning and raising money in California,
has repeatedly hammered Obama as a poor steward of the sluggish
economy who has failed to spur job creation and is hostile to
the business world and free markets.
On Wednesday night, he focused on criticism of the Obama
administration's $535 million in loan guarantees given to
Solyndra, a solar panel company that went bankrupt despite the
'THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND'
"The president doesn't understand that when he invests like
that in one solar energy company, he makes it harder for solar
technology generally. Because the scores of other entrepreneurs
in the solar field suddenly lost their opportunity to get
capital," he said during a Bay Area fundraiser on Wednesday
"Who wants to put money in a solar company when the
government puts a half a billion into one of its choice? So
instead of encouraging solar energy, he discouraged it. They
don't understand how the free economy works," he said.
Romney clinched the Republican nomination earlier this week
with a victory in the Texas primary, although the race had been
over for weeks as his top rivals suspended their campaigns.
Polls show the two candidates 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 vital swing 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.
At his appearance in Boston, Axelrod was joined on stage by
a mix of Massachusetts Democrats, some of whom served under
Romney. Many also appeared in a video released by the Obama
campaign, called "Broken Promises."
John Barrett, the former mayor of North Adams in far
northwestern Massachusetts, said in the video an array of new
and increased fees implemented during Romney's term, including
those for vehicle registration, marriage and burial, "impacted
mainly the average middle income person."
Romney ended his term as governor with an approval rating of
between 34 percent and 39 percent, and turned his attention to a
failed 2008 run for the Republican presidential nominee.