CHANTILLY, Va.--For the second time in three days, Mitt Romney invoked the name of Jimmy Carter as part of an ongoing attempt to tie President Obama to the one-term Democratic president.
Speaking at a small female-owned company that designs trade shows and museum exhibits, Romney argued that the president’s lack of private-sector experience has led to policies that are making it difficult for small businesses to thrive.
“It was the most anti-small-business administration I’ve seen probably since Carter,” Romney told an overflow crowd packed into the company’s warehouse. “Who would’ve guessed we’d look back at the Carter years as the good ol' days, you know?”
On Monday, Romney also referenced the former president when he was asked by a reporter if he would have given the order to go after Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani hideout. “Of course,” Romney replied. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”
Romney has invoked the Georgia Democrat before. In February, for example, he called Obama’s administration “the most anti-jobs, anti-investment, antigrowth administration that I’ve seen since Jimmy Carter."
But now Romney's surrogates are also playing the Carter card. In an essay last week in Foreign Policy published on Romney's campaign website, Chicago lawyer Richard Williamson, a former ambassador in the Reagan administration, faulted Obama's handling of North Korea and Iran. "In short, we are approaching a Jimmy Carter moment," Williamson wrote. "In a perilous world, this is not the kind of leadership our country needs."
With a row of female entrepreneurs lined up behind him, Romney spent most of his speech focusing on the parts of his economic policy that he says will most benefit their small businesses.
“People ask me, 'What would you do to get the economy going?' ” Romney told the crowd. “I say, well, look at what the president’s done, and do the opposite.”
He spoke of lowering taxes and requiring regulators to remove a regulation for every new one they added. “And I want major regulatory action to have to be confirmed by Congress, as opposed to just having some agency just put it on the American people.”
Romney also attacked the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, also known as “card check,” which would allow workers to organize in a union if a majority of employees in a bargaining unit signed forms stating they wanted to unionize. Romney complained that process did not allow employees a chance to vote by secret ballot, and he said the program would have had a particularly harmful effect on small businesses, such as the one he was in.
“In a business like this, and you've got what about 12 employees working directly here, about 12 employees. The biggest cost for this enterprise is the people, of course, as in most enterprises,” he said. “If you're told that the government is going to now set the wages of the people that are working for you through mandatory arbitration, because they've been unionized in a way that the people themselves didn’t want, why, you scare away entrepreneurs from starting businesses.”
The Obama campaign was quick to respond, hitting back at Romney for not being more specific about his own economic plans.
“Mitt Romney continues to double down on his familiar economic scheme: more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and letting Wall Street write its own rules—the same formula that benefited a few but crashed our economy and punished the middle class,” Obama spokeswoman Liz Smith wrote in a statement sent to reporters. “Just as troubling is the fact that he refuses to reveal what cuts he would make to pay for his $5 trillion tax plan or what he would put in place of the Wall Street reform that he wants to repeal.”