CHARLESTON, South Carolina—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney began making his case against Barack Obama in a speech here today in a speech aimed as much at Rick Santorum as at the president.
He denounced government involvement in private businesses in a rally here this afternoon, using the now-withdrawn National Labor Relations Board lawsuit against a new Boeing plant.
“The same thing they did to Boeing here they want to do across the country to pay back their political friends,” he said, slamming President Barack Obama for appointing “cronies” to the board yesterday.
Romney modified his standard stump speech to decry Solyndra, Tesla Motors and other federally-backed green enterprises.
“The president says he wants to create green jobs, I think he wants to give jobs to the people who give him the green,” he said. “You know we desperately need more car companies,” he added.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley vouched for Romney’s conservative credentials and insisted that Tea Party supporters would vote for him.
“Who is the guy who will make sure the NLRB doesn’t do to Boeing what they just did — this man,” she said of Romney.
Their comments resonated with criticism of former Senator Rick Santorum for — some Republicans believe — being soft on labor unions.
In a familiar line, Romney said Obama doesn’t mean to be harming the economy, but doesn’t know any better. “I understand how the things the president’s doing kills jobs,” Romney said. “He’s a job killer. He doesn’t mean to be, he just is.”
A Romney aide called the NLRB recess nominations “a gift from the White House” to the campaign, making jobs and the economy the central issue in South Carolina, and pushing social issues further to the back-burner.
Haley added that Romney would also defend states’ rights to pass laws on voter identification and combatting illegal immigration.
“[Romney] says any state that passes a law should be able to enforce it if they want to,” she said, noting that she’s been sued by the federal government, the ACLU, and that “Jesse Jackson started talkin’ smack to me last week.”
But Haley refused to take a shot at Santorum like Sen. John McCain did in his remarks, telling reporters: ”I don’t I feel like I have to put any candidates down to make Gov. Romney look good.”
But in a subtle dig, she added: “I know I want someone who has nothing to do with Washington. everything about Washington is chaos and I don’t want us to have any part of it.”
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