- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2012

SALEM, N.H. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seeking to solidify his status as the Republican presidential front-runner, criticized President Obama on Thursday as a “crony capitalist” who meddles recklessly with economic forces he doesn’t understand.

“He’s a job killer,” Mr. Romney said at a town-hall meeting, citing the administration’s financial support of the failed solar energy company Solyndra and other firms with ties to campaign contributors. “This president is a crony capitalist.”

With five days left before New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, Mr. Romney holds big leads in the polls, including one conducted by The Washington Times and JZ Analytics on Wednesday. Coming off his narrow victory in the Iowa caucuses Tuesday, Mr. Romney is essentially ignoring his GOP rivals and aiming his fire at Mr. Obama.

Mr. Romney criticized Mr. Obama’s “extraordinary” action Wednesday of installing via recess appointments three new members to the National Labor Relations Board who are viewed as union-friendly.

“He said, ‘I’m going to put some more labor stooges on the National Labor Relations Board,’” Mr. Romney said of the president, adding that the board, as configured now, “is there to be as a political payback for the president.”

Mr. Romney’s complaints about the NLRB should receive a warm reception in South Carolina, where he will travel later Thursday to appear with Gov. Nikki Haley. While the path to victory in New Hampshire for Mr. Romney looks sound, he faces a bigger challenge in South Carolina, where religious conservatives will play a larger role in the outcome.

The NLRB last year blocked Boeing from moving a manufacturing plant from Washington state to South Carolina, which is a right-to-work state, in a move that was widely criticized as a favor to big labor. The aircraft manufacturer and its unions later settled their differences.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Repubican, who endorsed Mr. Romney Wednesday, said Mr. Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB are “the classic example” of the president abusing his powers. He said Mr. Obama’s move “added insult to injury.”

Mr. McCain called the NLRB “a far-left group” and said Boeing’s valid business decision had been stopped by “these unelected people.”

“It was the influence of organized labor,” Mr. McCain said. “This is the abuse of power” by Mr. Obama.