WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama’s team ripped into Republican Mitt Romney’s big convention speech Friday, complaining it lacked a governing vision and disguised plans to punish the middle class.
As dust settled from the Republican National Convention in Florida, the president’s team switched their focus to their own nominating jamboree next week, at which Obama must persuade voters he deserves to keep his job.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod promised the president would provide the specifics that he said Romney’s address Thursday, which was packed with personal anecdotes and patriotic platitudes, lacked.
“I think that what people were tuning in hoping to hear were practical solutions to the challenges that we face,” Axelrod told MSNBC.
“You know, what they got were some snarky lines about the president, some gauzy reminiscences about the past and some buzzwords for the base.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that while the convention may have succeeded in warming people up personally to the Republican nominee, practical solutions were lacking.
“It was more about tearing down Barack Obama than leaving the American people with the impression of what Mitt Romney’s presidency would be,” she told CNN, ahead of the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Obama’s campaign also released a Web video, assailing Romney for what it said were his plans to add tax burdens to the middle class, further enrich the wealthy with tax cuts and gut state-financed health care for seniors.
“When you learn about the Romney plan ... is it any wonder he doesn’t have much to say?” the narrator asked, over pictures of a sad looking Romney.
Romney’s speech included an appeal to Americans enthralled by Obama’s historic election win in 2008 who now felt that his soaring rhetoric was not matched by proficiency in government or successful economic policies.
“Hope and change had a powerful appeal. But tonight I’d ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn’t you feel that way now that he’s President Obama?” Romney asked.
Romney was making the first stop in his final push for the U.S. presidency in Louisiana Friday, where he planned to tour the damage of Hurricane Isaac a day after accepting his party’s nomination with his most important speech to date.
Romney was to tour with Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal. Isaac arrived seven years to the day after the devastating hurricane Katrina hit the area, but it was much weaker, with five deaths reported amid widespread flooding.
The slow response to Katrina’s deadly chaos in 2005 hurt the presidency of Republican George W. Bush, and the campaigns of both Romney and President Barack Obama have been mindful of their response this time.
In his speech Thursday night, Romney told voters they can “trust him to restore the promise of America,” but he offered few details about his plans to fix an ailing economy and a politically divided nation. Obama will visit Louisiana Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Obama was, for appearances sake at least, keeping out of the partisan fray Friday, heading to Texas to mark the second anniversary of his order to halt combat in Iraq with war veterans and their families.
While the trip was in keeping with his duties as commander-in-chief, the visit has a highly political context for Obama, who regards getting troops home from Iraq as a core 2008 campaign promise honored.
Obama will throw himself back onto the campaign trail in earnest Saturday by launching a four-day “Road to Charlotte” tour, blitzing battleground states Iowa, Colorado, Ohio and Virginia.
Aides to Obama, who is locked in a tight race and hampered by the sluggish economic recovery as well as high, widespread unemployment, also argued that the convention had done little to improve Republican prospects for November’s election.
“In an almost 45-minute speech, Mitt Romney didn’t find a moment to mention Afghanistan.
“With no new plans and evasion about his real plans, Mitt Romney leaves this convention no stronger than he came,” said Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager.
The president sent out an email to his millions of supporters moments after Romney wrapped up his speech, calling on them to donate to his campaign before the latest monthly fundraising deadline expires Friday.
Obama wrote to his supporters: “Tonight was their night. But our focus must be on tomorrow.”