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Romney to Santorum: Let's talk about the economy

 

 

ROCKFORD, Mich. -- In the final hours before Michiganders head to the polls, Mitt Romney is debuting a new argument against his chief rival Rick Santorum, that sounds a lot like his old arguments against Barack Obama.

"Sen. Santorum is a nice guy, but he’s never had a job in the private sector," Romney said. "He’s worked as a lobbyist and worked as an elected official, and that’s fine, but if the issue of the day is the economy, I think to create jobs it helps to have a guy as president who's had a job, and I have."

(Santorum was not a registered lobbyist. He did, however, work as a consultant for a D.C. lobbying firm, though he only made $65,000 from the group in 2010 and half of 2011.)

Romney has long described President Obama as a "nice guy" without the necessary experience to get the economy going again.

Spurring the economic conversation, an op-ed piece by Santorum in the Wall Street Journal this morning, in which he attacked Romney's new economic plan as emblematic of a "last-minute conversion," and "just more Obama-style class warfare."

This morning, Romney seemed to welcome the attack as an opportunity to refocus the conversation here to the economy -- his political bread and butter.

"I saw this morning that Sen. Santorum wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal," Romney said. "I’m glad to see that. He wrote a piece in there about the economy and tax policy and regulatory policy. I’m glad he recognizes this is going to be a campaign about the economy. It’s time for him to really focus on the economy and for you to all say, 'OK, if the economy is going to be the issue we focus on who has the experience to actually get this economy going again?'"

The possibility of a realignment around economic issues comes after days of back-and-forth attacks between Romney and Santorum who most polls show locked in a dead heat in Michigan. And after a weekend in which Santorum, once again, seemed to be fighting the culture wars.

Today, the battle line seemed to be drawn over whose economic plan could be the boldest, with Romney staking an outsider claim in language seemingly borrowed from his famously verbose rival, Newt Gingrich.

"We need dramatic change, fundamental change in Washington," Romney said. "We have to say we’re going to dramatically change the structure of Washington, send whole host of programs back to states where they can be better run, get rid of some programs. That’s not going to happen by someone who is a creature of Washington, someone who’s spent their life in Washington.”