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Romney shifts back to focus on the economy

By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times –

BETTENDORF, Iowa—Mitt Romney took a break Wednesday from his frenetic national fundraising tour for a campaign rally in Iowa. Just as telling as what he talked about were the topics he avoided.

The Republican presidential hopeful was silent on welfare and Medicare—the subjects of his recent attack ads against President Barack Obama—and said nothing on abortion or rape victims, the topics that have dominated the nation’s political news for days.

Instead, Romney hewed tightly to a message that small-government-is-good in remarks to about 1,000 supporters inside an aluminum casting manufacturing warehouse in this town on the Mississippi River.

“We’ve now had four years in a row with a president that’s built trillion-dollar deficits,” Romney told the crowd, with industrial fans buzzing in the background. “It’s bad economics, it’s the wrong course for America, and I believe it’s immoral for us to pass on our burdens to the next generation.”

Romney was speaking at family-owned LeClaire Manufacturing. Behind him onstage was a group of non-union LeClaire workers wearing blue T-shirts that said, “Government didn’t build my business, I did” – a swipe at a recent Obama remark on public infrastructure underpinning successful businesses.

Romney’s quick afternoon stop in Iowa came the day after he made a fundraising trip to Texas that yielded between $6 million and $7 million in donations, mainly from the energy industry, according to his campaign. From Iowa, Romney was headed Wednesday afternoon to Little Rock, Ark., for more fundraising.

Romney’s avoidance of welfare and Medicare comes as a number of Republican strategists have faulted his campaign for losing its focus on jobs and the economy.

Further distracting his campaign this week has been the uproar over remarks by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who said in an interview that women are biologically equipped to prevent pregnancy after “legitimate rape.” Akin later apologized but has rejected calls from top Republicans, including Romney, to step down as the GOP nominee in the race for a U.S. Senate seat.

On Wednesday, Romney kept the focus on the economy, once again pointing to Europe’s troubled system as preview of where the United States is headed under Obama.

“We don’t have to guess what the future looks like if we stay with the current president. We can see what’s happening in Europe,” he said. “Over there is that people have spent more than they have taken in year after year after year, borrowed more and more money, made promises they couldn’t fulfill.”

In response, the Obama campaign said Romney’s economic proposals would weaken the country.

“Romney would increase health care costs for all Americans by repealing the savings in Medicare and turning Medicare into a voucher system, he would raise taxes on the average middle class family with kids by $2,000 a year to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, and even independent economists have said his policies wouldn’t create a single job and could actually push us back into recession,” the president’s campaign said in a statement

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