Republicans continued their efforts to spin a Barack Obama gaffe into Mitt Romney gold Thursday, with Iowa businessmen calling the president "detached" and "out-of-touch" with the current economic conditions.
"It was absolutely extraordinary last week for the president to say that the private sector is doing fine," said Brian Kennedy, a Quad Cities attorney and Romney's Iowa campaign chairman. "He couldn't be more out of touch."
The comment was "insulting" to the 23 million unemployed Americans, he added.
Kennedy made his comments in a conference call with reporters that coincided with the Romney campaign's release of an ad, "Doing Fine," that goes after Obama for his "doing fine" comment.
Both Obama and Romney were scheduled to deliver economic speeches in Ohio later in the day.
Also on the call was Jose Laracuente, CEO/owner of AgVision Agribusiness Software in Ankeny.
They called for a change of course on the economy to reduce taxes and regulation and give business more confidence in expansion and job creation.
"As a business owner, one of the main things that has hurt us and really has not allowed us to expand is all of the uncertainty that is out there in terms of taxes -- what's going to happen at the end of the year -- and the regulation," Laracuente said. Uncertainty about the impact of the president's health care reform also is a concern.
"We really want to continue to create good jobs, but it's tough when we're staring at higher taxes and more regulations," Laracuente said.
He has about 22 employees and would like to hire as many as four more if he had more certainty, Laracuente said. His company website listed four positions, but Laracuente said later he's not filling them now.
"Those positions in the current website are not open and we are not actively looking to fill them now," he said in an email. "In the past, when positions are open and being recruited for, we actually put the words 'open' next to the description."
Kennedy defended the Romney's campaign continued use of the president's remark -- which he later walked back -- to describe Obama's lack of understanding of the economy and said Iowa voters are likely to hear more about it.
"Jobs and econ have been the basis of the campaign, frankly on both sides, now for several months -- the defining issue in the country," he said. "It's an issue where there is such a clear contrast between the candidates and the approach they want to take."
The Obama campaign agreed with that.
"This election offers the American people a chance to break the stalemate between two fundamentally different visions of how to grow the economy, create middle-class jobs, and pay down the debt," Obama for America said in a statement. "Romney and his allies in Congress believe that if you simply take away regulations and cut taxes by trillions of dollars, the market will solve all our problems on its own."
The president's economic recovery plan focuses on education, energy, innovation, infrastructure, and a tax code that creates American jobs and pays down our debt in a way that's balanced, according to the campaign.
"The president believes the economy grows not from the top down, but from the middle class up, and he has an economic plan to do that," it said.
That "more of the same" approach won't work any better in an Obama second term than it has for the past three-and-a-half years, Kennedy said.
"He believes if we grow government, if we have high taxes and raise taxes, if government regulated business, that's the path back," Kennedy said. "We've tried that path. The promise was that it was going to take us under 8 percent unemployment. We're at 8.2 percent and, headed, frankly, in the wrong direction."
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