(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)WASHINGTON—Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took to the same Washington, D.C., hotel ballroom stage where President Barack Obama chided his Republican opponent for his full embrace of the House GOP budget, and urged the president to stop building "straw men" to make his re-election-year arguments. As the general election begins in earnest this week, Romney was clearly trying to set some of the ground rules.
"President Obama came here yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making and criticized policies no one is proposing. It's one of his favorite strategies, setting up straw men to distract from his record," Romney said. "And while I understand why the president doesn't want to run on his record, he can't run from his record either."
"The idea of this kind of rhetorical excess I don't think serves us very well," he added.
In his remarks before newspaper editors from across the nation, Romney sought to define the 2012 battle for the Oval Office as one of great consequence. In that, Romney and Obama agree.
On issue after issue, Romney sought to portray the president as a failed leader who has abdicated his responsibilities on foreign affairs, the economy and the looming fiscal crisis due to exploding deficits and debt.
Romney also keyed off the president's recent open-mike incident with his Russian counterpart, where he indicated he would have more "flexibility" in a second term, to employ a character-based line of attack on Obama.
"Unlike President Obama, you don't need to wait until after the election to find out what I believe or what my plans are," Romney said. "Unlike President Obama, I have the courage to stand behind my plan and the leadership experience to enact it."
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