GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Calling President Barack Obama the “out-sourcer in chief,” Mitt Romney highlighted his economic recovery plan at a campaign stop hosted by the same Grand Junction high school where his rival spoke nearly four years ago.
“If there’s an out-sourcer in chief, it’s the President of the United States,” Romney said, pointing to Obama's federal investments in new energy companies that manufacture products overseas. “Not the guy who’s running to replace him.”
Romney's attempt to defend himself against the Obama campaign's repeated attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital marked an obvious shift in message, coming after a week of strong criticism from conservatives who have pushed Romney to hit back harder.
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee's first visit to Colorado since late May started with the oft-spoken platitude about the importance of the Colorado, one of about 10 key swing states in the coming election.
“Colorado could well be the place that decides who our next president is going to be,” Romney said to a crowd of about 800 supporters who packed Central High School Tuesday.
"And if it is the place that decides it, I'm counting on you guys to help get the job done."
Romney outlined a four-pronged economic plan, explaining that he will fight to take advantage of local energy, take advantage of new trade opportunities, cut back on the size of government and better prepare workers for future jobs.
Referring to Obama exclusively as a “liberal” – and at times an “old time liberal” – Romney said his opponent has failed to deliver on his promise to jump start the economy.
“When he (Obama) won the nomination, he went on The Today Show and said, ‘If I can’t turn the economy around in three years, I’ll be looking at a one-term proposition.’ We’re here to collect,” Romney said.
The U.S. recently received two “kicks in the gut” from the Obama administration, according to Romney.
He said the first came when the June employment figures were released. Romney said the nation needed to create double the 80,000 new jobs that were announced in last month.
The second kick to the gut, according to the Republican, came in the form of Obama’s proposal to extend tax cuts for Americans making $250,00 or less.
"The very idea of raising taxes on small businesses and job creators at the very time we need them to create jobs is the sort of thing that only liberals could come up with," Romney said.
The Obama campaign responded with a statement.
“If his remarks today in Colorado are any indication, Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it," said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign. "There’s a stark difference between where he and President Obama want to take this country. Mitt Romney’s plans encourage outsourcing. Barack Obama wants to end incentives to send jobs overseas."
"Mitt Romney, who’s personally profited from investments in companies that were pioneers in shipping American jobs to India and China as a corporate buyout specialist, would slash funds to spur the clean energy sector in America, eliminating renewable energy jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa and ceding the industry to China."
Romney localized his push to capitalize on the nation's energy resources by referencing fracking, saying the regulations for that practice should remain a state responsibility and not a federal one. The city of Aurora signed off on a $9.5 million fracking deal to sell water to the Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Tuesday.
The wildfires in the state were also a topic of discussion, as Romney invited middle schooler J.D. TenNapel, of Cedaredge on stage. The 15-year-old suffered first- and second-degree burns when he rode his four-wheeler through the Surface Creek fire in Delta County to warn his neighbors of the blaze on June 8.
Following the town hall meeting, Romney flew to Colorado Springs to meet with volunteers working at a food bank catering to victims of the Waldo Canyon Fire. The event was not open to the public or the press.
The focus of the discussion became more nationalized when Romney began taking questions. One audience member referred to the media as “the left wing of the Democratic party,” to which Romney responded that he was fighting an “uphill battle in some organs of the national media.”