Accusing his rival of a failure of "tragic proportion," Republican Mitt Romney charged Thursday that the nation under President Obama has failed to keep its "moral commitment to help every American help himself."
Casting the need to fix the U.S. economy as a moral imperative -- but without offering any new proposals -- Romney said free enterprise ideas and less government intrusion would help spur a rebound.
"It has become clear that this president simply doesn't understand or appreciate these fundamental truths of our economic system. Over the last three and a half years, record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs or just disappeared from the workforce or could only find part-time jobs," Romney said. "Record numbers of Americans are living in poverty today -- over 46 million people in this country, living below the poverty line."
That, he said, was unacceptable.
"This is not just a failure of policy. It is a moral failure of tragic proportion. Our government has a moral commitment to help every American help himself," the likely Republican presidential nominee said to applause at a Missouri business that builds military tents. "And that commitment has been broken.
"President Obama's vision is very different and deeply flawed There is nothing morally right about trying to turn government dependence into a substitute for the dignity of hard work," he said.
Romney spoke to workers in a Missouri warehouse of Production Products, a military contractor specializing in making chemical and biological weapon protections and defenses.
Romney's fresh line of attack on Obama is tailored to avoid alienating those who may have supported the president previously and may still wish him well, yet are considering abandoning him in November.
"I don't believe, by the way, it was done with evil intent or ill will," Romney said in his negative critique of Obama's policies. "But for a family watching their house get foreclosed, or the family that is forced to spend their kid's college savings just to make ends meet, the results are just the same, and just as devastating."
Romney also argued Obama is trying to fool Americans into believing he has improved their economic circumstances.
"There is something fundamentally wrong when there are over 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work, and yet the president tells us he's doing a great job," he said. "I will not be that president of doubt and deception; I will lead us to a better place."
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney delivered a "dishonest" speech that offered no new ideas to help the economy.
"Mitt Romney has promised to use his experience to turn around the economy, but all he has offered to date are negative and dishonest speeches tearing down President Obama," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Romney's campaign said that together with the GOP it raised more than $76 million in May for his presidential bid.
It's the first month that the former Massachusetts governor has collected more money than Obama, who is known for his fundraising prowess. Obama on Thursday reported raising $60 million in conjunction with the Democratic Party in May.