(Evan Vucci/AP)Mitt Romney vowed Monday that he would not "apologize for being a successful businessman" and tried to turn the focus on President Barack Obama's ties to political donors.
Speaking at a fundraising lunch in Baton Rouge, La., Romney made no direct mention of the Democratic attacks over his record at Bain Capital. But it was clear it was on the Republican nominee's mind as he addressed a room of supporters.
"I'm not going to apologize for being a successful businessman," he told donors."Those that take risks sometimes succeed brilliantly, wonderfully, and that makes us a stronger economy."
Romney was speaking at the first of two scheduled finance events along the Gulf Coast Monday. The Louisiana event raised $2 million from 40 supporters, each of whom contributed $50,000 to hear the Republican nominee speak. The proceeds went to the Romney Victory Fund, a joint account between the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee and several state Republican parties.
"This is the most expensive lunch you've ever attended," Romney joked.
Romney was joined in Baton Rouge by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential running mate. Speaking ahead of Romney, Jindal trashed Obama for running "an increasingly desperate and negative campaign."
"Seems like every time you turn on the TV you hear another false, malicious attack. Despite the fact that independent fact checkers and the Washington Post and others have decried these attacks as false, they keep coming again and again. Why is that?" Jindal said. "It's pretty simple. It's because this president, President Obama, he cannot run on his record, he can't run on his political philosophy so he has to attack and distort Gov. Romney's record."
Taking the microphone, Romney stuck to his campaign's message of the day: trashing Obama as a president who put political donors ahead of everyday Americans. In particular, he took aim at federal loans given to Fisker Automotive, a California company that creates luxury hybrid cars. Romney said Monday that the Obama administration signed off on more than $500 million in federal loans to the company—which he claims was spent on building the cars overseas.
As The New York Times' Michael Shear previously reported, the company has disputed Romney's claims—insisting it took just $93 million in loans and all of that money was spent on its U.S. operations.
But speaking to supporters in Louisiana, Romney suggested Obama awarded the money based on its connections to top donors and supporters—including former Vice President Al Gore, who is a partner in the venture capital firm that first invested in Fisker.
"He is taking your tax dollars and putting it in businesses owned by contributors to his campaign, and that is smelly at best. It stinks," Romney said. "When the president puts $500 million into a company called Fisker whose owner happens to be a venture capital firm in which Al Gore is a partner, that stinks. It doesn't look right. It doesn't smell right, and that has happened more than once. … So the president not only took our money and put it with his friends he also took our money and outsourced the jobs."
Echoing an attack he made last week, Romney called Obama the real "outsourcer in chief."
Romney is set to raise cash at a fundraising dinner in Jackson, Miss., Monday night before heading to Pennsylvania, where he is to hold a rally outside Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon.