Romney cites defunct N.H. bridge as evidence of failed stimulus

(CBS News) HILLSBOROUGH, N.H. - Standing in front of a defunct stone bridge that was recently turned into a park with the help of federal stimulus money, Mitt Romney on Friday attacked President Obama for wasting money on "careless" projects rather than focusing on job growth.

"You all know the story of this bridge. This is part of the president's stimulus plan," Romney said from the parking lot of a Ford dealership adjacent to the Sawyer Bridge. The bridge hasn't been used by vehicles since the 1800s and does not reach from one bank to the other, but local leaders were able to get more than $150,000 from the federal stimulus bill to restore the structure.

"[The Obama administration] said `Look, we put in place a whole series of elements that are critical to the future of America.'And you've got one behind us right there," Romney said in reference to the bridge. "That's what they're saying. This is the absolute Bridge to Nowhere if there ever was one. That's your stimulus dollars at work."

Some local townspeople say the bridge is a tourist attraction that adds character to a busy intersection, according to the Boston Globe. "It's part of our past and future," Democrat Marjorie Porter, a Hillsborough state representative, told The Globe.

Local ABC TV affiliate WMUR also noted that the bridge project overwhelmingly passed in the state Legislature - including support from 28 state lawmakers who endorsed Romney.

Pointing to the unemployment rate - which has been slowly ticking downward in the past several months, but has not fallen below 8 percent since Obama took office - Romney argued the stimulus has failed in achieving its main goal of job creation. He pointed to an analysis showing the cost-per-job gained from the $787 billion stimulus was $317,000.

"The largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history," he said.

That $317,000 figure, however, appears to be derived from simply dividing the cost by the number of jobs created and suggests that all of the stimulus money was paid out in the form of salaries. The stimulus also included money for tax cuts, infrastructure projects and a host of other initiatives.

The former Massachusetts Governor also argued that Obama made a calculated choice to slow the economic recovery by focusing on the passage of the president's health care reform bill. He pointed to a passage in a new book, The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery, focusing on Obama's early years in office.

"In this book, they point out that they said the American people will forget how long the recovery took," Romney said. "So that means they went into this knowing that when they passed Obamacare, it was going to make life harder for the American people."

What Romney didn't mention was that in the book, written by New Republic senior editor Noam Scheiber, Summers complimented the president for making what he considered to be a tough but noble decision.

"I always admired the president's courage for recognizing that 50 years from now, people would remember that all Americans had health care," Summers is quoted as saying in the book. "And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn't remember how fast the recovery from this recession was."

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