Romney Returns to Economic Message In Run-Up to Convention

Sarah Huisenga and Rebecca Kaplan

POWELL, Ohio – One day after making a birth certificate joke that created an uproar and overshadowed his message, Mitt Romney laid groundwork for his upcoming convention by focusing on President Obama’s economic record and what he characterized as unkept promises.

The presumptive Republican nominee highlighted Obama’s own remarks at the 2008 convention to make his point. “I happened to pull out his speech last night. I'm not kidding.” Romney told a crowd of about 5,000 on Saturday.  “It’s really a brilliant speech. He says marvelous things. He just hasn't done them.”

Romney predicted that Obama would give similarly moving remarks at this year’s Democratic National Convention next week in Charlotte, N.C.  “It’ll be filled with promises to tell people how wonderful things are,” he said. “Of course they’ll have to contrast that with what they know they’re experiencing.  But as he lays out all of these wonderful things he’s going to do, people are just going to stop and say, but how are you going to do something different than last time?”

The central Ohio rally featured both Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and as of Saturday was the last public event on their schedules before the start of their own convention on Monday in Tampa, Fla.

Romney argued at the rally that giving Obama a second term would lead to four more years of high unemployment, declining wages, and falling home values, and promised to turn the tide on each with his own economic plan. And for the first time in several weeks, he made a specific pitch to women.

"If we become, if we become president and vice president we want to speak to you, we want to help you,” Romney said.  “Women in this country are more likely to start businesses than men. Women need our help."

Romney’s campaign has been under a consistent attack from Obama and Democrats who argue a Romney administration will turn back the clock on women’s health issues, a message that was pushed to the forefront last week by Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s controversial comments on rape and abortion.  The Obama campaign said Friday that the president will talk about reproductive rights and women’s health on a campaign swing through battleground states next week during the GOP convention. The campaign has named the tour “Romney/Ryan: Wrong for Women.”

Though he has not spent much time on the stump discussing women, Ryan appeared to recognize the ticket’s need to close the gender gap with Obama, whom polls show is leading among women.  When talking about the need to grow the economy, Ryan pointedly mentioned a desire to help every American achieve “her” potential.

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, reinforced the economic focus by citing “ugly statistics” on a roughly $4,000 drop in median household income since the start of the Obama administration. He was quoting a study by the nonpartisan economic consulting firm Sentier Research that appeared in a Wall Street Journal editorial posted Friday evening.

He contrasted those figures with Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts and said that instead of growing the economic pie so everyone could have more success, the president was merely looking to redistribute slices  in a pie that stays the same size. “That’s a bunch of baloney,” Ryan said. ”And I’m not talking Oscar Mayer baloney, that’s just a bunch of baloney.”

It was an inside joke: Ryan was a salesman for Oscar Mayer for a summer during his college years, and he even drove the Wienermobile.