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Romney, Obama Square Off On The Economy

President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered speeches that framed their visions for the United States moving forward.

While the appearences — both delivered in Ohio; Obama in Cleaveland, Romney in Cincinatti — were billed as dueling speeches scheduled for roughly the same time slot, the campaigns moved things around and the president delivered a much longer address right after Romney finished speaking.

In his address, Romney took shots at Obama for not delivering a recovery. He painted the president as being the "enemy" of business.

The president is taking the nation on a path to be "more and more like Europe, with a bigger and bigger government taking more from the American people," Romney said.

The Romney prescription, he said, is for "entrepreneurship ... innovation ... job creation ... economic vitality."

Romney restated that his road to recovery would involve tapping American energy, repealing Obama's signature healthcare law, and paying down the deficit.

President Obama made the case that he and Romney agree on one thing: The economy will be the issue in this campaign.

He said this November, the choice is not "whether we pay down our deficit, but how."

Do we give rich guys like him and Romney a tax cut, Obama said, and take away the "guarantee of basic security for the" elderly and sick or cut financial aid for students?

Obama said those questions have caused a stalemate in Congress. He has a clear vision and so does Romney.

"The only thing that can break the stalemate is you," said Obama. "This November is a chance to render a verdict."

We live blogged the two speeches. If you want a play-by-play, keep reading.

OBAMA, 2:53 p.m. ET. Asking For A Mandate:

Wrapping up his speech, Obama returns to a theme he touched upon earlier.

He said this November, the choice is not "whether we pay down our deficit, but how."

Do we give rich guys like him and Romney a tax cut, and take away the "gurantee of basic security for the" elderly and sick or cut financial aid for students?

Romney and "his allies in Congress" disagree with him, he said. That's why they've failed to move forward on any economic plan.

"The only thing that can break the stalemate is you," said Obama. "This November is a chance to render a verdict."

In closing, Obama said this was the electorate's chance to give someone a mandate. And if voters agree with him that government is not the problem and that the market can't fix all the country's problems, then they should give him a second term.

OBAMA, 2:48 p.m. ET. Some Specifics:

Obama delivers some specifics on his economic plan:

-- Now is not the time to turn our backs on supporting innovation, he says. The government should invest in educating and training Americans for high tech jobs, he said.

-- "Now is the time to rebuild America," he said.

-- Obama said he would take half of the money "we're saving on the war ... and do some nation building here at home."

-- He said to attract businesses to the United States, government must provide the "the highways, run ways and broadband access."

-- "It's time to take on fiscal problems in an honest, balanced, responsible manner," said Obama.

-- He said it's time to return to the Clinton years when the wealthiest paid more but "the economy was booming."

OBAMA, 2:34 p.m. ET. A Shared Vision:

In the post World War II U.S., said Obama, Republicans and Democrats shared a vision that the market can't "solve all its problems on its own" and that the government is responsible for "consumer protection."

"In the last century this consensus ... led to a shared prosperity," Obama said. He said that vision led to his policy decisions, including his healthcare overhaul and Wall Street reform.

He said that post WWII vision was shared by the GOP. But, now, the Republican party has given that up for a view that "government is the enemy."

"That shared vision," said Obama, is what he "intends to carry forward as President."

OBAMA, 2:28 p.m. ET. Obama's Vision:

The president says he believes in paying down the national debt, but not on the on the backs of the poor and middle class, he said.

Then he hit back against criticism that he believes government is responsible for creating jobs. He said he doesn't believe "government is the answer to all our problems."

Obama said he passed fewer regulations than his predecessor and cut taxes for most Americans.

OBAMA, 2:21 p.m. ET. The Republican Plan:

Obama said "there is nothing new" in the Republican plans for the economy. He quoted Bill Clinton saying it was the old approaches, "only on steroids."

He said if people believe the way to prosperity is to cut taxes for the rich and cut spending to a level "not seen in modern times," they should vote for Romney.

"He is qualified to deliver that plan," Obama said.

He made those comments after telling the audience that under the Romney plan, many of them would be paying higher taxes to subsidize tax cuts for the rich.

"Why would we think that [those policies] would work better this time?" Obama said.

OBAMA, 2:17 p.m. ET. This Election Should Be About How:

"Of course the economy isn't where it needs to be," Obama said. The debate in this election should be "how" we move the country to prosperity.

OBAMA, 2:13 p.m. ET. Defending His Record:

Now the president pivots into a defense of his record. First, he notes, many countries usually recover from a deep recession at a slower pace. He notes that European austerity has failed to move those countries into positive territory.

"Our economy started growing six months after I took office," said Obama.

OBAMA, 2:10 p.m. ET. Prosperity "Never Trickled Down":

Obama is now making the case that the policies put in place during the Bush years — tax cuts, two wars — was a failure for the middle class.

"Prosperity," he said, "never trickled down to the middle class."

"For the rich it worked out well," he said. But the middle class suffered.

OBAMA, 2:07 p.m. ET. Break The Stalemate:

Obama says the thing that is holding this country back is the stalemate in Washington. It's a stalemate he said between "two tremendously different views" on how to get the economy back in order.

"This election," he said, " is your chance to break the stalemate."

OBAMA, 2:02 p.m. ET. Many Differences But Agree On One Thing:

"This election is about our economic future," said Obama, adding that while there are many differences between the parties this is one thing he agrees with his opponent about.

Obama says the economy is the "defining issue of our time."

ROMNEY, 1:57 p.m. ET. European Model?

The GOP candidate returns to a theme he hits often — that the president is taking the nation on a path to be "more and more like Europe, with a bigger and bigger government taking more from the American people."

His prescription, Romney says, is for "entrepreneurship ... innovation ... job creation ... economic vitality."

And with that, his address is over. It was, as you'll see if you read down through our updates, very much a campaign address that hit broad themes and familiar criticisms of Obama's record.

ROMNEY, 1:55 p.m. ET. "The Land Of Opportunity": After telling a story about an businesswoman in Las Vegas who has started a furniture company, Romney extols America as "the land of opportunity ... [and] the home of dreamers."

ROMNEY, 1:52 p.m. ET. Repeal "Obamacare," Cut The Debt:

Romney repeats his pledges to "get rid of Obamacare" and to put the federal government on a path toward a balanced budget.

ROMNEY, 1:50 p.m. ET. On Energy:

"I happen to like the sources of energy that we have in abundance," Romney says, "oil, coal and natural gas."

ROMNEY, 1:48 p.m. ET. If You Think Things Are Fine, Obama's Your Guy: Returning to the president's comment on Friday that the private sector is doing "fine," Romney says that if you agree, "then he's the guy to vote for." But Obama, he says, has been "long on words and short on actions that created jobs."

ROMNEY, 1:47 p.m. ET. "Enormous Opportunities" In Latin America: Assailing a lack of trade pacts with countries in Latin America, Romney says there are "enormous opportunities" there for U.S. companies.

ROMNEY, 1:44 p.m. ET. Employers Think Obama Sees Them As The Enemy: He's talked to small employers and big employers all across the country, Romney says, and they think Obama "sees them as their enemy." They feel like the health care overhaul, the financial regulatory bill known as Dodd-Frank and the administration's energy policies have worked against businesses' interests.

ROMNEY, 1:40 p.m. ET. Obama "Hasn't Delivered": As he starts, Romney says he's heard that the president is delivering a speech about the economy "on the other side of the state."

"He's doing that because he hasn't delivered a recovery for the economy," Romney says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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