Mitt Romney plays down his privileged background in primary battle speech
REPUBLICAN presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has been forced to defend his personal wealth amid intensifying criticism from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, which is trying to portray the former businessman as out of touch with most Americans.
Romney, who is worth up to $250 million, would be among the nation’s richest presidents if elected.
His Democratic and Republican opponents have thrust Romney’s success to the forefront of the presidential contest as he tightens his grasp on the state-by-state Republican nomination.
“If we become one of those societies that attacks success, one outcome is certain - there will be a lot less success,” Romney said during a speech at Lawrence University this weekend.
The former Massachusetts governor has been arguing his case for several days in the run-up to the Republican primary this Tuesday in Wisconsin. The state is a general election battleground and Romney is courting working-class voters likely to play a central role next week and again in November.
Obama won Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in November 2008.
Though Romney grew up with privilege as the son of a Michigan state governor, he has downplayed early advantages and said in Friday’s speech that he took “an entry-level job” after graduating from Harvard law and business schools.
“I loved cars and was very tempted to go into the car business as he had but I knew I would always wonder if any success I had was due to my father,” Romney said. “So when I got out of business school, I stayed in Massachusetts where I went to school and got an entry-level job with the best company that would hire me.”
Romney spent virtually his entire business career with Bain Consulting and Bain Capital, the Boston-based private equity firms where he amassed the fortune that has seen him go for more than a decade without a regular pay check.
Obama’s campaign is pushing Romney to release years of tax returns dating to his career at the companies. Romney’s Republican rivals have made the same argument, although intra-party criticism has softened as the party begins to unite behind Romney.
Obama’s campaign recently seized on reports that upgrades to Romney’s California home include a car elevator, among other renovations.
Romney campaigned with Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, who on Friday became the latest Republican leader to endorse Romney.
Raising cash in Maine, Obama said Republicans want to return to policies that would let Wall Street play by its own set of rules and allow insurance companies to roll back health coverage.
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