DENVER - Looking to shift the focus of the presidential race away from Bain Capital and Mitt Romney's undisclosed tax returns, two prominent Romney Colorado surrogates blasted President Barack Obama on Wednesday outside the Museum of Nature and Science, where Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery Act more than three years ago.
"He was the one who suggested that by now we would be at essentially normal unemployment levels, that we would have created these vast numbers of jobs, that the economy would essentially be operating on an even keel," said Bob Beauprez, a former GOP congressman who ran for governor in 2006. "It hasn't worked."
Beauprez and Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call both took issue with Obama's remark last week that “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that", following the Romney campaign's larger effort to tie the president to a big-government philosophy.
"Free markets and free people are what make America great," Call said. "Not only does he not understand it, he believes that America's success is a result of government intervention."
The Obama campaign has complained that the quote is being taken out of context by Romney and his surrogates.
Here's what Obama said last Friday, in full: "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
On Wednesday, Beauprez ripped Obama for what he labeled an obvious "disdain" for the free-market system.
"American people, American entrepreneurs, small business and large understand very well who's building those businesses, who's taking the risk, who's going the extra mile," Beauprez said. "For a President of the United States to insult that, to deride that, to disrespect that is just beyond the pale."
The Obama campaign responded by pointing out a May report from Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher that concluded that the American Recovery Act has had "a tangible, positive long-term impact" on the city.
"The impact of the recession would have been far worse on Denver, and probably the country as a whole, had not these stimulus efforts been undertaken," Gallagher concluded.
Democrats also dispute the notion that Obama doesn't want to run on his record.
"The stimulus is something the President will run on and he has been running on," Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio told FOX31 Denver. "Without a doubt, economists have said without the stimulus and other measures taken by the President, the economy would have sunk into a depression. Not just a recession, a depression."
The government website, http://www.recovery.gov, allows the public to see exactly how much stimulus money has been spent, where it's gone and how many jobs have been created as a result.
According to the site, Colorado has received $7.6 billion in stimulus money, which has created 3,275 jobs.