COLUMBIA, S.C.--Pouncing on a remark by President Obama that has generated considerable outrage in the conservative press, Mitt Romney accused the commander in chief of “disparaging” his fellow citizens.
“Sometimes I just don’t think that the president understands America,” the Republican presidential contender told a crowd of about 150 people at a sign-making factory here. ”This week, or was it last week, he said that Americans are lazy.”
The reference was to a comment Obama made on Monday to a group of executives about the need for the nation to more aggressively sell itself as an investment destination. “We’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades,” the president told CEOs gathered in Hawaii for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings. “We’ve kind of taken for granted--‘Well, people would want to come here’--and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America.”
Romney questioned whether Obama “gets what’s happening in this country."
“Because the people of America are just as imaginative and just as ambitious and just as hardworking as ever,” he said.
Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt fired back at Romney. “Only Mitt Romney would criticize the President for encouraging CEOs to promote the United States abroad in order to create American jobs and attract investment at home," he said in a statement. "Maybe that’s because when Mitt Romney was a finance executive, he was more focused on outsourcing American jobs and creating profits for investors without any regard for the impact of his decisions on middle class families.”
Romney also denounced “stooges” on the National Labor Relations Board for ruling against Boeing’s plans to build an assembly line in South Carolina, a move the NLRB said was designed to avoid union protections that company workers have in Washington state. South Carolina state laws make it harder for workers to organize into unions than do the laws in Washington, where the aerospace giant was founded.
The speech here was also notable for what it did not address. In his first public appearance since the Supreme Court agreed to rule on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health care law, Romney did not discuss the issue. It’s a sticky one for Romney. As Massachusetts governor, Romney signed into law a health care policy that requires Bay State residents to purchase health insurance--the same mandate that the Supreme Court is being asked by critics of the Obama health care law to overturn.