Brian Snyder / Reuters
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally at Springs Fabrication on Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo.
COLORADO SPRINGS -- In the shadow of the front range of the Rocky Mountains, Mitt Romney found himself between a rock and political hard place, hitting President Barack Obama on improving unemployment numbers, and attacking the 2009 stimulus on a factory floor that accepted a contract that included stimulus funds.
"This president came into office and said: 'Ok, we're going to get this economy going by borrowing $787 billion dollars in stimulus.' And he said if we borrowed that money he would hold unemployment below 8 percent. It has not been below 8 percent since. And he's celebrating that it's at 8.3. Well that's still above the emergency line of 8 percent, and by the way, he doesn't get credit for things getting better," Romney said. "I'm delighted things are getting better, I think they are, but the people who deserve the credit for things getting better are people like Tom who built a place like this and employed people in this great state."
Tom is Tom Neppl, the CEO of Springs Fabrication, whom Romney praised as a job creator, and whose factory floor held roughly 1000 Romney supporters here Saturday.
Romney said that Springs Fabrication, which accepted a contract in 2010 that included $2 million dollars in stimulus funds, was emblematic of the private sector job growth he would support, and that the stimulus did not work as it "should have."
"That stimulus he had, it did not do the job. I mean, I understand Tom said he was working on a project that got some stimulus money. I asked, well, were you able to hire more people because of that, he said no. Didn't add any more people, just more money into the system, but no more people hired," Romney said. "That stimulus did not create private sector jobs like it should have, like it could have, it instead protected government jobs."
Romney's renewed focus on the economy, and on Obama, comes as most polls show him likely cruising to victory in Nevada on Saturday night. He did not mention any of his Republican rivals by name or even allude to them. The frontrunner's campaign, clearly confident in his fortunes in Nevada, spent much of the day flying back and forth to Colorado, which holds its caucus on Tuesday.
Romney was joined at his rally today by Sen. John Thune, R-SD, who also sounded a general election message, telling the crowd that Obama would try to "distract" them in the fall.
"He's going to talk about fairness. You know what that means? That means he would like to tax people more so the federal government in Washington can spend more. Because he wants to redistribute the pie," Thune said. "Well we have the great privilege this year of having a candidate who doesn't want to redistribute the pie, he wants to make the pie bigger for everybody."