The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

July 6, 2012

GOP critics attack Romney's safe approach

WOLFEBORO, N.H. — A chorus of prominent conservative voices is worrying aloud that Republican candidate Mitt Romney's play-it-safe strategy is jeopardizing his chance to win the presidency.

As President Barack Obama's campaign intensifies criticism of Romney's background, influential Republicans — right-leaning leaders in business and the media — charge that Romney's message on the economy and other issues is short on detail and muddled at best.

Romney dismissed the negative attention as he faced reporters Friday to respond to another weak federal jobs report.

"I don't say much to critics," he said.

In an editorial Thursday, The Wall Street Journal said the Romney campaign is "slowly squandering an historic opportunity."

"The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault," the newspaper said. "We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that 'Obama isn't working.' Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the president's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."

The harsh critique comes as Romney nears the end of a weeklong vacation at his New Hampshire lakeside home, where he has been almost totally out of the public eye, except for a brief Fourth of July appearance. Polls show Obama slightly leading Romney nationally and in several states that are critical in the hunt to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Nov. 6 election.

Romney has consistently criticized Obama's handling of the economy, health care, domestic spending and foreign policy, but he has offered few specific prescriptions for what he would do differently. The strategy is reflective of a campaign that hopes to make the election a referendum on Obama — in particular his handling of the economy — as economic indicators suggest the pace of the nation's recovery is slowing.

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