Romney calls Obama "eloquent," but says "words are cheap"

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during the Business Roundtable quarterly meeting at the Newseum in Washington, Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Attempting to stay a step ahead of President Obama, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a "pre-buttal" to a speech Obama plans in Cleveland on Thursday, saying he expected him to speak "eloquently," but that "words are cheap" and the president should be denied a second term based on his track record on the economy.

"I think you're gonna see him change course when he speaks tomorrow, where he will acknowledge that it isn't going so well, and he'll be asking for four more years." Romney told a group of more than 100 business leaders at a meeting of the Business Roundtable Association. "My own view is that he will speak eloquently, but that words are cheap ... If you look at his record over the last three and a half years, you will conclude as I have that it is the most anti-investment, anti-business, anti-jobs series of policies in modern American history."

Obama also can't take credit for the economy's modest growth, Romney said, because "he's responsible for the fact that it's taken so long to see this recovery and the recovery's been so tepid."

Obama is scheduled to campaign at Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College on Thursday. While Obama makes his case to Northern Ohio voters, Romney will be campaigning in the southwest part of the state, speaking at a Cincinnati business that makes precision metal parts. It will be the first time the two have held public campaign events in the same state on the same day.

The Obama campaign issued a response to Romney's remarks that said: "Contrary to Romney's rhetoric, the president took our nation from losing 750,000 jobs a month to adding 4.3 million private sector jobs over the last 27 months, worked to reduce burdensome business regulations, and has put forward a plan to create more jobs and reduce the deficit while asking every American to pay their fair share.

"And while Mitt Romney promised to use his experience as a corporate buyout specialist to improve the economy, we know that he broke this promise in Massachusetts when he drove the state down to 47th out of 50 in job creation and left it with the largest per-capita debt of any state in the nation."

At the Business Roundtable event, Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a former CEO of the investment firm Bain Capital, seemed at ease talking about his economic plan with a group of his peers. He reiterated his calls for cutting taxes, reducing regulation, and increasing free trade.

"Too often you find yourself facing a government that looks at you like you're the bad guys," Romney told the group, which included several CEOs. "And if you're hiring people and employing people and paying taxes, you're the good guys. I want you to do well."

Romney also attacked "crony capitalism," arguing that government should not invest and promote individual companies like Solyndra, the solar cell manufacturing plant that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama administration and later went bankrupt. But considering that several of the companies represented in the room have received some form of government assistance, Romney was careful to acknowledge that he understood that not everyone was "happy with my discourse on this."

"I believe the government has a real role investing in basic science and technology and sharing that with enterprises - licensing that technology," he said. "But I don't believe in the government picking winners, or in the case of our government, picking losers," he said to laughter from the crowd. "I think the free market does a much better job than does government in picking specific enterprises - technology and science absolutely, but enterprises absolutely not."

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    Sarah Huisenga is covering the Mitt Romney campaign for CBS News and National Journal.