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Politics

Menino criticizes Mitt Romney at Democratic convention, makes no endorsement in Senate race

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino spoke during day two of the Democratic National Convention.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino spoke during day two of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino criticized Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts and called earnestly for President Obama’s reelection Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, but he offered no endorsement of Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, who was scheduled to deliver a primetime address on the same stage only hours later.

Menino claimed to like Romney personally, calling him a “decent guy,” but said he was unimpressed by the Republican presidential nominee’s tenure on Beacon Hill.

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“As the mayor of Boston, I worked with him when he was governor. Much of the time, we worked together pretty well,” Menino said. “But he made a lot of decisions that were bad for our state -- and now he wants to carry those wrong-headed policies to the rest of our country?”

“Mitt likes business-speak,” Menino added. “Think of me as a reference check. In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had the one job in his life that’s closest to being president, and he wasn’t all that good at it.”

As evidence, Menino cited the familiar statistic that during the four-year period when Romney was governor, Massachusetts ranked 47th in the nation in job growth.

The claim is accurate, though it lacks context: Romney took office in the midst of a recession, when the state was losing jobs. In 2003, Romney’s first year as governor, the state’s workforce shrank by 1.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline ranked Massachusetts last in job creation.

In 2006, Romney’s last full year in office, the workforce grew 1 percent, enough to rank Massachusetts 32d in the nation.

Menino also accused Romney of running a divisive campaign that does not reflect the city where it is based.

“Mitt Romney may come from Boston, but his campaign’s values aren’t Boston values,” Menino said. “Because in Boston, we know this country didn’t become great by excluding folks and leaving each other on their own. In Boston you know what we call immigrants? Mom and Dad. You know what we call same-sex couples? Our friends. Our brothers and sisters.”

Romney describes himself as a strong proponent of legal immigration but has taken a hard line on illegal immigration, calling for completion of a fence along the Mexican border and opposing the Dream Act, which would facilitate citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at young ages and who enroll in college or enlist in the military.

During the Republican primary, Romney criticized Texas Governor Rick Perry for signing a law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges. Romney wrestled with a similar decision in Massachusetts.

“I hate the idea of in any way making it more difficult for kids, even those who are illegal aliens, to afford college in our state,” Romney said in 2004, after vetoing a line in the state budget that would have granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. “But equally -- perhaps a little more than equally -- I do not want to create an incentive to do something which is illegal.”

Romney opposes legal same-sex marriage but said in a May interview on Fox News that he has no objection “if two people of the same gender want to live together, want to have a loving relationship, or even to adopt a child.”

Menino praised what he described as Obama’s commitment to strengthening the middle class and urged voters to “keep moving forward” by re-electing the president.

But on the high-profile Senate race between Warren and incumbent Republican Scott Brown, Menino said nothing.

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

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