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Politics

Romney criticizes Obama in ‘prebuttal’ speech

Mitt Romney spoke in Charlotte, N.C., where he crticized President Obama for not delivering what he promised during his first term.

Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Mitt Romney spoke in Charlotte, N.C., where he crticized President Obama for not delivering what he promised during his first term.

In what was billed as a “prebuttal” to President Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech in Charlotte late this summer, Mitt Romney on Wednesday cast the incumbent as incapable of fulfilling the promises of 2008, saying “he’s in over his head, and he’s swimming in the wrong direction.”

“Since he was sworn in, more Americans have lost jobs,” said Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee. “He didn’t turn that around, put people back to work — actually more have lost jobs, more homes have been lost, gas prices have doubled. Health care costs have gone up, tuition is more expensive, and students who come out of high school or college can’t find jobs, in too many cases. Service men and women who come home from conflict find they can’t find a job when they get here.”

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Romney delivered remarks at Roof with a View, a special event venue overlooking Bank of America Stadium, where Obama will officially accept the Democratic nomination in September.

The appearance on turf claimed by Obama is part of a campaign strategy known as “bracketing.” A Romney aide confirmed to the Globe that the former Massachusetts governor will make an appearance in Ohio Thursday, a day after Obama spoke in the Buckeye State. The strategy mirrors that of Obama’s campaign in the early stages of the Republican primaries, when the president’s surrogates repeatedly scheduled press calls to coincide with Romney campaign stops.

In a week when Democrats have hammered Romney on transparency — blasting him for policy ideas he shared only with high-dollar donors over the weekend and continuing to call for the release of old tax returns — Romney sought to refocus the political conversation on the economy, where polls show he holds an advantage over the president.

“We know that it’s time to have someone who’s actually led, who’s spent enough time in the private sector to know how jobs are created and why they leave, and who knows how to bring them back to this country,” Romney said.

Romney held a luncheon fund-raiser in Raleigh earlier in the day and was scheduled to speak at a Charlotte country club Wednesday evening. The campaign stops were some of Romney’s first in North Carolina, traditionally a lock for Republican presidential candidates but a state Obama won four years ago.

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When Obama edged GOP nominee John McCain, 49.9 percent to 49.5 percent, in 2008, his victory marked the first by a Democratic presidential candidate in North Carolina since Jimmy Carter’s in 1976. Former President George W. Bush carried the state by 12 points in 2004.

Both parties have made North Carolina a priority. According to data maintained by Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, North Carolina has been the target of $9.3 million worth of television advertising by presidential campaigns and super PACs during this election cycle, more than has been spent in any state but Florida, Ohio, and Iowa.

Framed by columns during his address, Romney cracked that “you’re not going to see President Obama standing alongside Greek columns” at the convention. “He’s not going to want to remind everybody of Greece … because he’s put us on a road to become more like Greece.”

“This is a president that is putting in peril our economic future,” Romney added. “Because at some point, the people that loan money to the United States of America are gonna get concerned about whether it’s going to be worth something, whether the dollar is going to be worth something in the future, and they’re going to ask for higher interest rates. And if that starts to happen, heaven help us.”

Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.

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