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Team Obama takes attacks to Mitt Romney's home turf

Obama strategist David Axelrod shouted over protesters at the Massachusetts State House as he attacked Romney's record as governor. Romney countered at California's shuttered Solyndra plant.

By Staff writer / May 31, 2012

David Axelrod, a strategist for President Obama, takes questions from members of the media in front of the State House in Boston Thursday.

Steven Senne/AP

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Washington

Team Obama went after Mitt Romney on his home turf Thursday, criticizing his tenure as governor of Massachusetts from the steps of the State House and in a video that features local Democrats taking apart Mr. Romney’s record.

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Struggling to be heard over protesters at the State House event, top Obama strategist David Axelrod cast Romney's record in the harshest possible terms. Under Romney, Mr. Axelrod said, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation, manufacturing jobs vanished at twice the national rate, and household incomes fell.

“You can shout down speakers but it’s hard to Etch-a-Sketch the truth away,” Axelrod said.  

Supporters for both campaigns gave the event a carnival-like atmosphere. Obama supporters carried signs saying “Romney Economics: It Didn’t Work Then, It Won’t Work Now,” a line Axelrod repeated in his remarks. The pro-Romney supporters shouted “We want Mitt!” and “Solyndra! Solyndra!” – a reference to the solar manufacturer that received more than $500 million in loan guarantees authorized by the Obama administration, only to go bankrupt. In a bit of counterprogramming Thursday, Romney criticized Obama’s energy policies from the steps of the shuttered Solyndra plant in Fremont, Calif. 

Axelrod offered a wholly negative interpretation of the Romney years and ignored what he might have called the former governor’s one bright spot: enactment of a health-care reform that became the model for Obama’s national legislation. When Romney ran for governor in 2002, Axelrod said, he brought “the orientation of a financial engineer” that was all about making short-term profits. The result, he said, was poor job creation and an increase in taxes and debt.

He also called Romney a “drive-by governor” on his way to a run for the presidency.

For their part, Republicans paint a more positive picture of the Romney administration, arguing that he took office amid a down economy, following the burst of the dotcom bubble, and faced a heavily Democratic legislature – and yet still managed to preside over a reduction in the unemployment rate. Democrats counter that unemployment went down because workers gave up, and some left the state.

The Obama campaign’s focus on Romney’s Massachusetts tenure represented a pivot away from the carpet-bombing of Romney’s time as CEO of Bain Capital, a private-equity firm. Republicans argue Team Obama is simply throwing dirt wherever it can, in the hopes that some of it sticks. The challenge for Romney, they say, is to explain all the underlying factors marking his time as governor.

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