- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 2, 2012

After a few whirlwind days that saw him collect the Republican presidential nomination and make a commander-in-chief-like trip to Louisiana to inspect storm damage, Mitt Romney stepped off the campaign trail Sunday to prepare for the upcoming presidential debates with Barack Obama.

The former Massachusetts governor met Friday with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and with first responders from Jean LaFitte, La., which was under several feet of water from Hurricane Isaac.

Mr. Obama plans to tour storm damage in Louisiana on Monday.

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, dismissed the Romney visit as “hypocrisy” because the spending plan supported by Mr. Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryanwould have cut disaster relief spending.

Stuart Stevens, a top Romney adviser, shrugged off the attacks. “I don’t understand why it would be inappropriate,” he said of the visit. “It is not a political thing.”

Mr. Romney’s campaign is still trying to figure out whether their candidate will campaign or lay low this week, which used to be the polite thing to do while the other party holds its nominating convention — in this case, while the Democrats gather in Charlotte, N.C., to renominate Mr. Obama.

On Saturday, the Romney campaign made another stop in the battleground state of Ohio.

Flanked by House Speaker John A. Boehner and Sen. Rob Portman, both of Ohio, Mr. Romney told the several thousand people gathered that Mr. Obama has dropped the ball when it comes to delivering on the sweeping promises he made during his 2008 presidential campaign — particularly on jobs.

“One of the promises he made was he was going to create more jobs, and today there are 23 million people who are out of work or have stopped looking for work or underemployed,” Mr. Romney said as the college football season got under way. “Let me tell you if you have a coach that’s zero and 23 million, you say it’s time to get a new coach. It’s time for America to see a winning season again, and we are going to bring it to them.”

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, campaigned in Iowa Saturday as he began a five-day trip that he hopes to use as a springboard into the Democratic convention in Charlotte.

The president said Mr. Romney “did not offer a single new idea” at the GOP convention, Mr. Obama told about 10,000 cheering supportersin Urbandale, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines.

When the crowd booed the GOP convention, Mr. Obama said, “Don’t boo. Vote.”

The gap between the Republican and Democratic conventions serves as a preview of the two-month post-Labor Day sprint to Election Day, where both campaigns will be pouring more money into television and more energy into corralling the small herd of undecided voters into their respective camps.

According to the Associate Press, Mr. Romney planned to spend the rest of Labor Day weekend at his lakefront home in Wolfeboro, N.H., and has set aside three days next week to preparefor the three scheduled October debate showdowns with Mr. Obama.

Mr. Ryan, meanwhile, is scheduled to campaign in Greenville, N.C., on Monday — a day before the Democratic convention starts in the state.

On Saturday, Mr. Boehner whipped up the crowd into a frenzy before introducing Mr. Romney, arguing that it is time for “America to stand up and reclaim our country” and the newly minted GOP presidential nominee is the right person to lead the way.

“It is a time for America to stand up and reclaim our country,” Mr. Boehner said.

The Republican nominee also released his second weekly podcast of the campaign, in which he continued to make the case that Mr. Obama soaring rhetoric from four years ago has come crashing down to Earth.

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family,” Mr. Romney said, repeating a line from his acceptance speech last week in Tampa, Fla.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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