By Jim Kuhnhenn and Steve Peoples Associated Press
GOLDEN, Colo. — Facing an American audience for the first time after a bumpy overseas trip, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that President Barack Obama is a disappointment who failed to deliver on his campaign promises.
At the same time, Romney promised to create 12 million jobs in his first term in office and make North America energy independent in eight years.
“This is not just hope,” Romney told hundreds of supporters gathered in the Denver area. “This is a path of more jobs and more take home pay and a brighter future for you and for your kids.”
Romney also shared a report card giving Obama poor marks on job creation, foreclosures and American incomes.
The Romney attacks come as Obama released a new TV ad Thursday going after Romney, a millionaire many times over, for paying about 14 percent of his 2010 income in taxes. Obama contends that Romney’s economic proposals would mean tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, including himself, a bigger tax bills for everyone else.
Romney backed his Colorado rhetoric with a new spot timed to Obama’s appearance Thursday in Orlando, Fla., that called the president a “disappointment” for a statewide economic picture that has not improved under his watch.
The Obama ad, which will air in eight states, cites a report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that argues Romney has paid a lower proportion of his income in taxes than many people of lesser means. “He pays less, you pay more,” the ad says.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior Romney adviser called the report “a joke” and challenged its impartiality and methodology Thursday during a conference call with reporters.
Romney’s response ad shows footage of Obama giving a speech in 2008 and lamenting the state of Florida’s economy. The spot notes that Florida still suffers from high unemployment, record home foreclosures and more of the state’s residents living in poverty. “Barack Obama: What a disappointment,” the ad says.
Besides Florida, Obama also was stopping in Virginia. Romney campaigned in Colorado, where he also was set to appear with 10 Republican governors, including some mentioned as potential running mates, at an event near Aspen.
Romney charged that the results of Obama’s economic policies have been “a disappointment.”
“His policies have not worked. They have not gotten America back to work again. My policies will work,” he said. Of Obama, Romney said: “Talk is cheap” and outlined aggressive pledges of his own.
“In eight years, if I’m president of the United States, my commitment is to get America and North America energy independent,” he said. “We will not have to buy any energy from anywhere else in the world.”
Romney said he would emphasize drilling on public lands, coal production and the completion of an oil pipeline, but did not offer any other specifics. He said his proposals would create 12 million jobs during his term but offered no details on how that would come about.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House cast partisan votes on tax measures that also underscored Washington’s political stalemate. Led by the GOP, the House approved a universal extension of Bush-era tax cuts, just a week after the Democratic-controlled Senate voted in favor of Obama’s plan for continuing current tax rates only for households earning less than $250,000 or for individuals under $200,000.
With the tax issue dominating the debate, Obama was visiting two states that represent the bookends of the national economy. Florida is among states hardest hit by the housing bust and has an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent, slightly above the national average of 8.2 percent, and ranks 39th among the 50 states.
Virginia, on the other hand, has the 10th lowest unemployment at 5.6 percent.
Colorado, where Romney campaigned, has been struggling with a jobless rate equal to the national average.
As if to emphasize the challenge facing the presidential contenders, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the U.S. economy was losing strength. The Fed took no new action to boost the economy, but it appeared to signal an inclination to take steps to stimulate job creation if the economic deceleration continued.
The next major marker of economic health comes Friday, when the government announces July hiring and unemployment trends.
Economists forecast that U.S. employers added 100,000 jobs in July. That would be slightly better than the 75,000-a-month average from April through June but still below the healthy 226,000 average in the first three months of the year.
Romney’s appearance with governors would not only create a show of force, but also would underscore his role as a former governor of Massachusetts. It also would tease speculation about his pick for a running mate, as those with him will include governors such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Virginia’s Bob McDonnnell, all of whom have been mentioned as possible Romney picks. Absent will be two of the most often mentioned possibilities, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Obama was headed to Orlando to make up for an appearance he postponed last month after the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo. Orlando is in the middle of a Florida swath that separates the Republican-leaning north of the state and the Democratic-leaning south.
He then will take his message to Leesburg, Va., in the nation’s wealthiest county, near Washington, D.C. Obama carried Loudoun County in 2008, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate won there in four decades.