Carlos Osorio/AP

Romney: Obama is a 'big government' Democrat

GOP candidate hits Obama for focusing economic recovery plan on government-run programs and increasing taxes.

LANSING, Mich. – Mitt Romney on Tuesday took direct aim at President Obama’s reelection theme “Forward,” arguing that the president's policies are actually a throwback to the era of “big government” Democrats more extreme than the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

“President Obama chose to apply liberal ideas of the past to a 21st-Ccentury America,” Romney told a crowd in the auditorium at Lansing Community College. As a result, he said, middle-class Americans over the past three and a half years have been forced to put off retirement, work longer hours, and forego things like vacations, movies, and eating out.

“This wasn’t what we expected from President Obama,” Romney said, reading from prepared remarks. “He promised change and hope, and he said we could do anything we wanted together.  But rhetoric met reality, and reality won.”

Romney hit Obama for trying to dig the country out of the recession by focusing on government-run programs and increasing taxes. “President Clinton, remember, he said the era of big government was over,” Romney said. “President Obama brought it back with a vengeance.”

Romney seized upon the recent “Life of Julia,” a cartoon story created by the Obama campaign, as an example of the president’s “old school” liberalism. The graphic, which shows how bills signed into law affect the life of a cartoon woman named Julia, has come under attack by conservatives who claim it promotes reliance on government aid.

“Julia progresses from cradle to grave, showing how government makes every good thing in her life possible,” Romney said of the fictional character. “The weak economy, high unemployment, falling wages, rising gas prices, the national debt, the insolvency of entitlements – all these are fictionally assumed away in a cartoon produced by a president who wants us to forget about them.”

He added, “By the way, what does it say about a president's policies when he has to use a cartoon character rather than real people to justify his record?”

Romney said he would improve health care by getting the industry to work more like a consumer market, improve education through technology, and usher in a “revival in manufacturing” through better trade and labor policies. But Romney did not go into specific details on any of his policy positions.

He also avoided a topic of great importance to Michigan’s economy, the auto-industry bailout. Romney on Monday said that he would “take a lot of the credit” for the industry’s comeback since he had argued for a managed bankruptcy – a comment the Obama campaign was quick to attack.

"Mitt Romney didn’t have the courage to bet on American workers and instead said that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt’ ” Obama spokesman Lis Smith said in a statement. “Despite his best efforts to Etch A Sketch this position, he can’t shake away the fact that if he’d had his way, the American auto industry and the millions of jobs it supports would have been devastated.”

Smith also pushed back against the suggestion that Obama’s ideas are vastly different from those of Clinton’s, pointing out the former president’s comments on Romney’s economic proposals.

“Now he wants to bring back budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and letting Wall Street write its own rules—policies that President Clinton compared to the failed economic policies that created the crisis, but ‘on steroids.’ ” Smith said.

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