In Va., Romney Shifts His Focus Back to the Economy

In Va., Romney Shifts His Focus Back to the Economy

By Scott Conroy - May 2, 2012

CHANTILLY, Va. -- A day after President Obama's surprise visit to Afghanistan to mark the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, Mitt Romney used a speech in northern Virginia to turn the election narrative back to the economy. The campaign reset followed several days of heated debate over the politicization of national security issues.

Speaking at a small business that provides materials and management advice for trade shows, the presumptive Republican nominee made sure to note at the beginning of his remarks the “women-owned business leaders” seated in the front-row of the small, jam-packed warehouse.

In a brief stump speech given on the one-year anniversary of the raid that killed bin Laden, Romney did not even mention the former al-Qaeda leader and instead focused entirely on economic issues.

The former governor of Massachusetts said that if he were to become the steward of the nation’s economy, he would “look at what the president’s done and do the opposite."

“When the president was a candidate, he said he’d measure success by whether or not we were creating jobs,” Romney said. “Well, he’s been in office 3½ years, and no net jobs have been created.”

Romney’s visit to this electorally critical swing state came in the middle of a week that has been dominated by the national security spat fueled by the approach of the bin Laden anniversary. After the Obama campaign questioned whether Romney would have ordered the mission had he been commander-in-chief, Romney shot back on Monday that "even Jimmy Carter” would have done so.

But it was clear from the candidate’s focus during his lone public appearance Wednesday that he is eager to shift the race back into his comfort zone: criticizing the president’s domestic policies.

Romney said that he is optimistic but also concerned for the nation’s economic future, noting that many Americans are “really struggling right now.”

The Republican decried the increase in business regulations; an energy policy that he characterized as severely lacking; and the burgeoning federal deficit, which he said was “at the heart” of many of the nation’s broader problems.

“Incomes have not gone up, in part because jobs have not gone up,” Romney said. “In fact, the median income in America has dropped 10 percent in the last four years. It’s down $3,000 during President Obama’s term. Americans are hurting, and they want a very different course to be taken.”

He was joined on stage by his wife, Ann, whom he called his “sweetheart of 47 years.”

As he focuses on replenishing his campaign war chest after a long primary fight, Romney is slated to attend a fundraiser in northern Virginia on Wednesday night after attending meetings at the Republican National Committee. 

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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