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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Romney Blames Obama for His Campaign Challenges


DENVER - Mitt Romney, who has been criticized by members of his party in recent weeks for not campaigning aggressively enough and who trails President Obama in polls in most swing states, placed the blame for his campaign's struggles squarely on the president himself Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to reporters as his private charter plane flew from Los Angeles to Denver, Mr. Romney blamed his relatively languid campaign schedule - five public events in the past seven days, compared with 11 fund-raisers - on the president's decision to opt out of the federal campaign finance system four years ago, and criticized Mr. Obama for, he said, “trying to fool people into thinking that I think things I don't.”

Asked why he was behind in the polls in most swing states, Mr. Romney accused the Obama campaign of distorting his record.

“I think that the president's campaign has focused its advertising in many cases on very inaccurate portrayals of my positions,” he said. “They've been very aggressive in their attacks both on a personal basis and on a policy basis. I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we'll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other's accurate views for the future of country.”

Specifically, Mr. Romney pointed to the auto industry bailout, his tax plan, and his position on abortion as three areas in which the president had tried to misrepresent his position.

“When he says I was in favor of liquidating the automobile industry, nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr. Romney said. “My plan was to rebuild the auto industry and take it through bankruptcy so that could happen , and by the way he doesn't mention he took them through bankruptcy.”

Mr. Romney did oppose the auto industry bailout, instead lobbying for a process of “managed bankruptcy,” which he said would have allowed the car companies to restructure and emerge stronger than before. Though Mr. Obama did ultimately take the auto industry through a managed bankruptcy, the president argues that the process would not have been possible without his decision to inject the industry with billions in taxpayer money - an intervention Mr. Romney opposed.

Mr. Romney also said that the Obama campaign had incorrectly characterized his position on abortion.

In his ads on abortion “he says I'm opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest and the life of the mother,” Mr. Romney said. “That's wrong.”

Though Mr. Romney is opposed to abortion, he has said previously that he allows for exceptions in the case of rape and incest, as well as when the mother's lif e is at risk. His running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, however, does not support such exceptions.

Standing in the back of his plane, and pressed by reporters to explain his lagging position in many polls, Mr. Romney - whose campaign recently said that they would not allow fact-checkers to dictate their campaign - found himself calling for fact-checkers.

“I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you've had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on,” Mr. Romney said.

He keeps running these things even though he knows they're wrong and saying them in rallies even though he knows they're wrong.”

Mr. Obama's campaign took exception with Mr. Romney's comments, accusing him of shirking the blame for his campaign's recent struggles.

“It's odd that Mitt Romney, a former CEO, won't take personal responsibility for his campaign's troubles,” said Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, in an e-mail statement. “And it certainly takes a lot of chutzpah for him - after his campaign bragged that it wouldn't be dictated by fact checkers - to shed crocodile tears over a legitimate discussion of his record and policies. Here are the facts: If Mitt Romney had had his way and we'd let Detroit go bankrupt, GM and Chrysler would no longer be in business today. He would raise taxes on middle class families to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. And he endorsed the Republican Party platform that would ban abortion even in the cases of rape and incest.”

She added: “If he's so offended by his own positions, maybe he shouldn't have taken them in the first place.”

Mr. Romney also criticized the president for opting out of the federal campaign finance system four years ago. Now, both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama have opted out, a decision Mr. Romney blames for his light campaign schedule, which has come under scrutiny by members of his own party.

“I'd far rather be spending my time out in the key swing states campaigning, door-to-door if necessary, but in rallies and various meetings, but fund-raising is a part of politics when your opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits,” he said.

Asked if voters should expect to see Mr. Romney become more aggressive in coming days, he demurred: “You'll see what you're going to see,” he said. “I'm not going to lay out precisely the nature of our campaign strategy.” But he did say that he expected the upcoming debates to help crystalize his case to the voting public.

“The president describes my direction in a way that is simply inaccurate and I will describe my own direction,” he said. “I think as we have the debates we'll get a chance for people to hear our distinctions quite clearly and they'll make their choice as to what they think is the right course forward.”

A nd as for his trailing poll numbers in most battleground states, the former governor appeared relaxed and unworried.

“I'll either go up or I'll go down,” he said.