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Republicans Sharpen Focus on Economy Ahead of Convention

Republicans Sharpen Focus on Economy Ahead of Convention
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks on stage ahead of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Sunday. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans sought to portray their party as the best option to revamp the U.S. economy while denouncing President Barack Obama’s record ahead of the Republican National Convention, which begins this week.

Voters care about the “economic and fiscal crisis,” Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast yesterday. “That’s what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan bring to the table,” he said, referring to the party’s presumptive presidential and vice presidential nominees, respectively.

Obama and the Democrats want the campaign to be about “anything but the administration’s record,” said former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on CBS’s “Face the Nation” broadcast. The election is “a referendum on Obama,” he said.

Republicans have portrayed Romney and Ryan as the candidates with the experience and vision to boost economic growth and establish fiscal discipline. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, made a fortune in the private sector, and Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, has introduced a plan on Capitol Hill to reduce federal spending and reform Medicare and Social Security.

“This should be a campaign of substance and big things rather than distractions and little things,” Jeb Bush, the Republican former governor of Florida, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” broadcast. Romney is a “practical person who’s had life experience based on solving problems,” he said.

Obama “can’t look at the American people with a straight face and say, ‘You are better off today than you were four years ago,’” Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said on the CBS Sunday morning program.

Campaign’s ‘Divisiveness’

“I want to make sure that we get the country back on track,” Romney said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Democrats led by Obama have run a campaign that has “been about dividing the American people,” he said. The “character assassination and divisiveness” of the president’s re-election bid diverge from the message of hope and change in Obama’s 2008 campaign, he said.

The Republican convention, which was set to begin in Tampa, Florida, today, has been delayed by a day as inclement weather as Tropical Storm Isaac bears down upon the state.

Fixing the Economy

Most of the business of the convention will be conducted tomorrow instead of today, and once the event gets under way, voters will see that Romney is more capable of leading the nation to economic prosperity, according to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

“We’re still going to prosecute the president on what he promised and what he delivered,” Priebus said on CNN’s “State of the Union” show. “We need someone to fix the economy and Mitt Romney is the one that can do it.”

Voters will also learn about who Romney is as a person, as a husband and father, Priebus said.

While the U.S. unemployment rate was at 8.3 percent in July, Democrats have highlighted Romney’s wealth. Romney, the son of a Michigan governor, has also ascribed to “extreme positions” taken by some members of his party, Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press, published Aug. 25.

Obama was “the first post-Watergate candidate for president who said he was going to push aside the federal spending limits and spend an unlimited amount based on what he could raise,” Romney said of campaign financing during the Fox broadcast. “I would far rather have a setting where we had both agreed to the federal spending limits.”

Romney Interview

“Fox News Sunday” interviewed Romney with his wife, Ann, at their house in New Hampshire, emphasizing the candidate’s private side. The family, which divides up household chores, doesn’t have servants there, and Romney cooks, shops and irons his own shirt, according to his wife.

Republicans are seeking to appeal to a broad spectrum of voters and distance themselves from comments made earlier this month made by Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, whose comments about rape earlier this month sparked a controversy.

Priebus reiterated his calls for Akin to drop out of the Missouri race for Senate.

‘Biologically Stupid’

“I call it biologically stupid,” Priebus said, referring to Akin’s mistake, adding it could “absolutely” cost the Republicans control of the Senate.

Romney called the remarks “outrageous,” saying that the party has encouraged Akin to drop his Senate bid.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, chairman of the Republican Platform Committee, defended the party’s stance on not making exceptions on abortion even for rape victims, saying the amendment didn’t make any judgments and left the details to the states and the people.

“The real point is, we are affirming that we’re a pro-life party,” McDonnell said on ABC’s “This Week.”

McDonnell said Democrats want to draw voters’ attention away from the President’s record on the economy.

Walker, the Wisconsin governor, said there are misconceptions that women or Hispanics only care about certain issues and that other things don’t matter to them.

“We need to stop siloing voters,” and instead ask them what they really care about, Walker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican Senator from Texas, said her party needs to lay out its principles and welcome people of different views.

“We can disagree on any number of issues,” Hutchison said on CNN’s “State of the Union” broadcast. “But if you want to be a Republican we welcome you. And I think we do.”

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