Presidential candidate Mitt Romney went on the attack, accusing President Obama for hiding his real agenda. NBC's Chuck Todd reports.
WASHINGTON -- With last night's hat trick of decisive primary state wins behind him, a victorious Mitt Romney launched Wednesday into his general election attack against President Obama, whom he accused of "hide and seek" politics that obscure his true agenda for a second term.
Casting Obama as both unfocused and partisan on economic issues, Romney questioned his Democratic rival's "candor" and painted the fall campaign as a referendum on his policies.
Referencing the moment last week when Obama was overheard suggesting to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility" in nuclear negotiations during a second term, Romney said the incident reveals that the president "does not want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press."
"By 'flexibility,' he means that 'what the American public doesn't know won't hurt him.'" he told a conference of newspaper editors in Washington DC. "He is intent on hiding. You and I will have to do the seeking."
Romney, who has taken on the mantle of presumptive nominee despite the persistence of Rick Santorum's dwindling campaign, also said the president's strategy to resolve the nation's ballooning entitlement costs amounts only to finger-pointing.
"This election will be about principle. Freedom and opportunity will be on the ballot," the former Massachusetts governor said. "I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for president because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess."
Obama, who spoke in the same venue yesterday, used his remarks for a blistering broadside against the Republican agenda, mentioning Romney by name for the first time this cycle.
Labeling as "social Darwinism" the budget measures championed by Rep. Paul Ryan and embraced by Romney, Obama said Republicans have "proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal."
Romney said Wednesday that Obama has greatly exaggerated the impact of the Ryan plan.
"President Obama came here yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making – and criticized policies no one is proposing," he said. "It’s one of his favorite strategies – setting up straw men to distract from his record."
Romney, who received muted applause from the audience of journalists, also disputed Obama's assertion that the vaunted GOP icon Ronald Reagan would be unable to succeed in today's GOP contest.
The Republican presidential frontrunner’s remarks to the group came in a hotel ballroom across the street from the venue where Romney announced the end of his 2008 run at an annual conference of conservatives four years ago.