Romney blasts ‘same old liberal policies’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigns at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company in Charlotte on Friday.

CHARLOTTE — From the floor of a Charlotte manufacturing plant, Republican Mitt Romney Friday blamed “the same old liberal policies of the past” for what he called the most tepid economic recovery since the Great Depression.

“We’ve got a government that’s gotten in the way of the American people,” the presumptive GOP nominee told about 650 people at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry. “We’re going to change that.”

Romney’s second visit to the city in a month took place just blocks from where President Barack Obama will accept the Democratic nomination in September.

The visit came the same week his campaign began ramping up operations in what’s expected to be a key battleground state this fall, one Obama carried by just 14,000 votes in 2008.

And the GOP’s national political director, citing the ongoing criminal trial of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and turmoil at state Democratic headquarters, called North Carolina “a major headache” for the Obama campaign.

On Friday, the factory floor of the family-owned company served as a backdrop for the former Massachusetts governor to talk about what he considers his trump card: The economy.

Only three states and the District of Columbia had higher March unemployment rates than North Carolina’s 9.7 percent. A Gallup Poll released Thursday showed voters believe Romney would do a better job than Obama of fixing the economy.

Sixty-one percent of voters said Romney would do a good or very good job handling the economy, compared to 52 percent who said Obama would.

Obama’s performance, Romney said, has fallen short.

“(Obama) said he would measure progress on whether we’re creating new jobs or not,” Romney said. “(Yet) we’ve had a record number of foreclosures — I see families really struggling.

“The right policies are going to put America back to work, make us the economic powerhouse we’ve always been.”

Wearing jeans and rolled up sleeves, Romney promised to cut federal spending and turn over to the states programs such as Medicaid and housing vouchers. He also pledged to tap U.S. energy reserves more aggressively than Obama.

But his speech, which lasted less than 15 minutes, was short on specifics.