Mitt Romney outlines his economic vision in Cincinnati

Mitt Romney made his economic priority clear Thursday in Cincinnati.

“It’s all about good jobs for the American people,” he said.

Romney made his remarks at equipment manufacturer Seilkop Industries only minutes before President Obama delivered an economy-themed address of his own, across the state at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. The candidates were originally scheduled to speak at the same time, but Romney spoke slightly earlier than expected, and Obama waited for him to finish.

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The dueling speeches come at a key junction early in the general election. Weak economic data and Romney’s stronger-than-expected emergence from a brutal primary season have buoyed his campaign and fueled his attacks on the president’s handling of the economy. In choosing Ohio as the forum for the speeches, the candidates recognize both the importance of the state in the fall election and how powerful the issue of jobs will be.

Both speeches keyed on who has the better vision for the country’s economic future. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, repeated the familiar assertion that his business experience will enable him to promote job growth at a rate that exceeds what Obama has managed to achieve.

“I spent my life in private enterprise—25 years,” Romney said. “I know how businesses work; I know what causes businesses to leave, and I know what will bring them back. I want to use that experience to get America working again.”

Romney presented a case Thursday that echoed one of his campaign rallying cries, “Obama isn’t working.” A $3.3 million advertising campaign that debuted earlier in the day pointed to 40 straight months of unemployment over 8 percent and 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or so discouraged by the job market that they have stopped seeking work.

Romney continued to label Obama out of touch with the middle-class, after the president’s statement last week that “the private sector is doing fine,” as he compared it to layoffs in the public sector.

The former Massachusetts governor pledged again to repeal and replace Obama’s health care law, which he said has “frightened businesses small and large and made them less likely to hire people.”

Romney said he would “get America on track to have a balanced budget” and vowed to “limit the size of government.”

“We can either continue on a path to become more and more like Europe,” he said, “with bigger and bigger government taking more and more from the American people, directing our lives and telling us how to run our enterprises. If we take that path, we know where it leads. It leads to chronic high unemployment like Europe has. Low wage growth, like Europe has. And fiscal calamity, like we’re seeing at the doorstep of Europe today. Or we can instead return to the principles that made America, America.”

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