- Romney calls new Obama campaign video a misleading "infomercial"
- Obama highlights new job growth figures during a stop in Virginia
- The GOP candidates are now focusing primarily on Mississippi and Alabama
Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney looked past his GOP opponents and focused squarely on President Barack Obama on Friday, calling the president's new campaign film a misleading "infomercial" that ignores a slew of alleged administration failures.
Obama's team is "calling it a documentary. I don't think so. It's an infomercial," Romney told a crowd in Jackson, Mississippi. "I have some suggestions for the president and for the (film's) producer. ... Talk to the 24 million Americans who are out of work or underemployed in this country."
Or "how about our soldiers coming home who can't find work? (They) can talk to them as well. How about the folks who are having a hard time filling up their car because the price of gasoline has doubled under this president?"
Addressing a number of topics, Romney said, "If someone's looking for things that the president's done wrong, it's a long, long, long list."
The Obama campaign released a trailer for the 17-minute film on Thursday. "The Road We've Traveled," narrated by actor Tom Hanks, comes out March 15. It chronicles the president's first term in office, Obama campaign officials have said.
Campaign officials have said they'll show the movie at house parties and events across the country. The film was made by Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim, who also put together the president's 2008 campaign documentaries.
For its part, the White House trumpeted new government figures released Friday morning showing that the economy added 227,000 jobs in February, part of an accelerating job growth trend. The nation's overall unemployment rate, however, remained steady at 8.3%.
"I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were," Obama told a group of workers at a manufacturing facility in Prince George, Virginia. "I ran for this office to get us to where we need to be."
Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail called the latest jobs figures inadequate and part of a record of presidential failure on the economy over the past three years.
The GOP, however, has not settled on exactly who will square off against the president in November. Romney extended his delegate lead over rivals Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul on Super Tuesday. But he has continued to show weakness among Southerners, evangelicals, strong conservatives and other elements of the Republican base.
Voters in Kansas and the Virgin Islands weigh in on Saturday, followed by Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa on Tuesday. Most of the attention is now focused on Mississippi and Alabama, which could play a key role in the race. Gingrich, now trailing Romney and Santorum, recently canceled plans to stump for votes in Kansas in order to spend more time in the two Deep South states.
Gingrich's spokesman, R.C. Hammond, said this week that the former speaker needs to carry both states in order to remain a credible candidate. Gingrich has finished first only in South Carolina and his political home state of Georgia.
More than two months after GOP voters starting casting their primary season ballots, Gingrich and Santorum are still vying to be the main conservative challenger to Romney, who is perceived as a more moderate candidate.
Gingrich's campaign took aim at Santorum on Thursday with a new Web video that depicted the former Pennsylvania senator as a big-spending Washington politician.
"Sen. Santorum poses as fiscally responsible, but he's the one who broke the bank while in Senate leadership," Joe DeSantis, the communications director for Newt 2012, said in a news release. "As the poster child of the big government Republican Party that the American people rejected in 2006 and 2008, Sen. Santorum ... cannot offer the stark choice we need between President Obama's big-spending record."
Santorum urged Alabama voters on Thursday to help turn the contest into a two-man race between himself and Romney.
"If you go out and deliver a conservative victory for us on Tuesday, this race will become a two-person race," Santorum told voters in Huntsville, Alabama. "And when it becomes a two-person race for the Republican nomination, the conservative will win that nomination."
According to CNN's latest count, Romney now has 429 delegates, compared with 169 for Santorum, 118 for Gingrich and 67 for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. A candidate needs 1,144 delegates at the Republican convention this summer in order to secure the nomination and win the right to face Obama in November.