A business plan, from a business man. That's how former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney framed his new jobs proposal during a speech at McCandless International Trucks in Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday. By portraying himself as a leader cultivated in the private sector, he set himself apart from his top two foes in the race for the presidency, namely President Obama and current front-runner for the GOP nomination and longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But, his direct attacks on Obama reveal which challenger he's now after more on his quest for the White House. [See photos of the 2012 presidential candidates on the campaign trail.]
Romney's jobs speech—which accompanied the release of his 160-page, Kindle-ready strategy book, Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth—was a targeted challenge to Obama, who's scheduled to deliver his own jobs speech on Thursday evening before a joint session of Congress. In his speech, Romney blitzed on everything from the president's knowledge of economics to his use of a teleprompter. But the plan itself, which undercuts and reverses much of Obama's presidency so far, portrays the seriousness of Romney's anti-Obama offensive perhaps more than anything.
Romney's plan includes five executive orders for day one of his envisioned presidency. Three of those take an eraser to President Obama's policies. Romney, for example, wants the Department of Health and Human Services to give much power over healthcare back to states in an attempt to "pave the way to end Obamacare." He would also eliminate "Obama-era regulations" that cost the economy, while putting a zero-dollar cap on annual increases to regulatory costs. Not to mention, Romney says he will undo any of President Obama's executive orders that favor organized labor. [Read about how such strategic details could help Romney's odds in the South.]
He also came down strongly on Obama's energy policies, particularly Obama's claims of job creation in the clean energy sector. "We're an energy rich nation but we're living like an energy poor nation," he said, later adding the question, "Where are those green jobs?"
The line that seemed to garner the most crowd appeal was his claim that Obama's economic policies were out of date. "Your pay phone strategy does not work in a smartphone world," Romney told the president, noting that more stimulus, or to follow the analogy, quarters into a pay phone, weren't going to get the results America needed. Romney also claimed that his 59-point strategy is "practical" and "was not created by a professor working alone in academia," likely another jab at the former University of Chicago law professor Obama himself. "He's not a bad guy," Romney said, referring to the president. "He just doesn't know how the economy works." [Read about the jobs plan introduced by another 2012 GOP contender, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman.]
Despite all his fervor against the president, Romney appears to be downplaying the recent rise of Perry in the polls, possibly in an attempt to position himself as the best candidate in a general election against Obama. According to the latest poll by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, Perry surpasses Romney 38 percent to 23 percent among the GOP field. Whether he decides to ignore Perry moving forward will become clearer Wednesday evening, when Romney has a chance to confront the Texas governor on a national stage during a prime-time GOP debate held in California.
Corrected on 09/12/11: A previous version of this article misstated where President Obama was a law professor.