ATLANTIC, Iowa – Mitt Romney predicted Sunday that President Obama’s re-election strategy of blaming Congress for policy gridlock will backfire, and also took aim at the president’s “failed” policy toward Iran in the wake of the country testing a surface-to-air missile.
As the primary season counts down to the first caucus on Tuesday, Romney keep his sights trained on his potential adversary in the fall, but he also took pains to draw a contrast with Rick Santorum, a Republican rival for the nomination who has crept up in the polls as a conservative alternative to Romney in Iowa.
Of Obama’s campaign strategy, unveiled by aides over the weekend, Romney said, “He’s trying to find someone to blame. I understand that their mantra these days is that there’s a do-nothing Congress and this is all the Congress’ fault. I think he’s forgetting that he had a Democratic Congress for the first two years that put in place his economic plans.
“He borrowed $787 billion and told us that if we let him borrow that money that he’d keep unemployment below 8 percent. It has not been below 8 percent since. He has failed,” Romney told a crowd while campaigning in Atlantic, Iowa.
At a later stop in Council Bluffs, the GOP front-runner poked fun at Obama by comparing his administration to reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian’s 72-day marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries, which ended in divorce. “I think the gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of until death do we part,” Romney said.
Obama campaign aides said on Saturday that the president will campaign against a “gridlocked, dysfunctional Congress” while he looks for ways to use his executive powers to help the sour economy. The president’s new go-it-alone strategy represents a stark contrast to his posture in 2008, when he promised to change the partisan culture of Washington, and it comes after he failed to achieve the “grand bargain” with House Republicans on the budget that he had sought.
On Iran, Romney said recent news that the hostile nation has developed a nuclear rod and tested a surface-to-air missile points to a failed U.S. foreign policy. “(Obama) said he was going to engage Iran. … Well, we now know how well that engagement policy worked. What’s happened is those crippling sanctions never got put in place. When voices of dissent went to the street, he was silent. When the people of Iran wondered if there was an American military option that was being considered, it was clear that that was not something that was on the table.”
During a session with reporters after a campaign event, Romney was asked about Santorum’s recent rise in the polls and the front-runner took pains to portray the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania as just another Washington insider, like former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the GOP rival whose campaign is losing steam after a barrage of negative ads from a pro-Romney PAC.
“I can tell you that our backgrounds are quite different. Like Speaker Gingrich, Sen. Santorum has spent his career in government, in Washington,” Romney said. “Nothing wrong with that, but it is very different” from his background as a businessman and former governor of Massachusetts. Romney also pointed out that Santorum endorsed him during his first campaign for president in 2008.