* “Obamanomics is not working”
* Tough charges made in key state
* Economy likely the key to 2012 election
(Updates with more quotes, background, context)
By Steve Holland
ALLENTOWN, Penn., June 30 (Reuters) - Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama on Thursday of failing to understand how to fix the U.S. economy and urged him to focus on jobs instead of playing golf.
“Obamanomics is not working,” Romney said, standing in a weed-strewn back entrance to the shuttered American Metal Works plant Obama had visited in 2009 as a potential symbol of economic renewal. It closed early this year.
Taking aim at an issue that could be Obama’s key vulnerability in the 2012 election, Romney also launched a 40-second Web video blaming the Democratic president’s economic policies for 100,000 job losses in Pennsylvania.
Romney, arguably the front-runner in the field of candidates competing for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said Obama is not sufficiently focusing his attention on the economy.
This is a view with which the White House would strongly disagree. Obama repeatedly says he is working every day on the economy and ways to reduce the 9.1 percent jobless rate after the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Romney, who says his business experience makes him ideal to turn the economy around, visited Allentown on a day Obama was raising money elsewhere in Pennsylvania, a state that went for the president in the 2008 election.
“The president is a nice guy and I know he’s trying, but he doesn’t understand how the economy works. He doesn’t know what it takes to create jobs,” he said.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts and businessman, said Obama should instead be back in Washington working on the economy and negotiating a debt deal with Republicans and Democrats.
This was Romney’s rejoinder to Obama’s accusations on Wednesday that Republicans are taking too much time off without working on a deal to avert a government debt default on Aug. 2.
“The president’s time is being focused on playing golf and campaigning, campaigning in Pennsylvania today, and blaming. He should be spending his time and his energy working on getting Americans back to work and fixing this economy,” Romney said.
Obama has played dozens of rounds of golf on weekends as a stress reliever from his high-pressure job and recently played a round with the top Republican in Washington, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, to try to get to know him better.
The U.S. economy and joblessness are considered among Obama’s main weaknesses in his re-election effort.
Romney is trying to promote himself as an economics-savvy jobs creator.
Obama’s victory in Pennsylvania in 2008 was instrumental in his presidential election victory. The state could be pivotal again in his 2012 re-election campaign.
The state has recently shown signs of favoring Republicans, partly as a result of the conservative Tea Party movement that helped Republican Pat Toomey win election to the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Bob Toth, an Allentown City Council candidate who attended the Romney event, said Allentown is tough for those looking for work.
“I just graduated from college in May. I can’t get a single $20,000 a year job ... I can’t even secure an interview anywhere,” he said.
Theresa Texter also said times are tough. She works at McDonald’s, but got cut back from five days a week to two.
When people look for work, she said, they run into situations where “there are two slots and 500 people applying for them.”