Washington » Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama is hurting, not helping, the economy in a way not seen "since the days of Jimmy Carter."
Speaking to the National Press Club as part of a media blitz launching his new book, Romney said that Obama has put too much focus on health care reform and not enough on jobs.
Threats to raise taxes on capital gains and add a tax on carbon emissions, Romney added, along with rising deficits also are thwarting the economy.
"These are the types of things that have led to the reaction in the private sector that says this is a frightening time," Romney said. "And rather than encouraging the private sector to grow and add jobs, it has had exactly the opposite effect that the president might have intended. I think this has been the most anti-investment, anti-entrepreneur, anti-employment, anti-job agenda since the days of Jimmy Carter."
Romney pitched his new book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, at the Friday event a week before he appears in Salt Lake City for a March 13 speech at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center.
The former Massachusetts governor, who oversaw the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, said that Obama has toured the world apologizing for U.S. actions when he should be talking about how great the country is and how it has helped other nations.
And Romney, a potential front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, complained that Washington politicians have been driving the country off course.
"I'm concerned and convinced that what is happening in Washington, not just this year but over the last decades, has [been] slowly but surely stripping away that spirit and enterprise and innovation and creativity and personal freedom," Romney said. "And if we're not careful, we could smother the very source of what makes America so unique in the world and what has propelled us to not only be an economic powerhouse but also a champion for liberty that the world has come to respect and admire."
Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan responded that Romney's "no apology" book tour is "appropriately named."
"He offers no apology for Wall Street speculators whose irresponsible behavior jeopardized our economy. He offers no apology for bailed-out banks [that] took taxpayer money with one hand and then handed out giant bonuses to their executives with the other," Sevugan said. "And he offers no apology for an insurance industry which keeps hiking up rates on our families while engaging in unconscionable practices that deny care when people need it the most."
Sevugan said Romney is making it clear that he and the Republican Party are on the side of Wall Street and the insurance companies and not the American people, adding, "And that's just sorry."
Former -- and potentially future -- presidential candidate Mitt Romney isn't weighing in on where the Republicans should hold their next national convention.
Romney told The Salt Lake Tribune on Friday that he believes all three cities vying for the 2012 gathering -- Salt Lake City, Tampa and Phoenix -- are "terrific" cities but that he's not going to give a preference.
"I remember what an extraordinary host Salt Lake was for the 2002 Winter Games," Romney said, "but one thing I will stay a mile away from is any discussion of which city should be the host for the convention."
Romney, who was heralded for turning around the scandal-plagued 2002 Olympics, made an unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2008 and is seen as a potential front-runner if he decides to try again.
Some observers have raised concerns that, if Romney, a Mormon, is chosen as the GOP nominee in 2012, a convention in the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would put too much emphasis on his religion. Some evangelical Christians say Mormons aren't true Christians, a point that may have cost him votes in his presidential run.
Officials of the GOP's site-selection committee are expected to be in Salt Lake City in early April to tour facilities.
Mitt Romney will speak March 13 at 7 p.m. at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. Tickets are available at SmithsTix.com.