WASHINGTON -- During a fundraising swing through Minnesota on Thursday, Mitt Romney offered an assessment of the business landscape that complicates the main attack line his campaign's been lobbing at the president.
Appearing at The Lafayette Club in Minnetonka Beach, the Republican presidential candidate offered the following remarks, per the pool report.
I'm going to champion small business. We've got to make it easier for small businesses. Big business is doing fine in many places -– they get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses. But small business is getting crushed.
Romney's right, of course. Big business is "doing fine" in many places. Corporate profits are high. The stock market has recovered from the recession. The biggest banks are bigger than they were prior to the 2008 crash.
But the phrase sticks out nonetheless. After all, it was what President Barack Obama used in his much-maligned take about the state of the private sector. And while the private sector is certainly a far bigger economic scope than big business, one has to imagine that the Republican National Committee would have had a field day if the president had made a similar utterance.
Then there is Romney's comment about the use of "tax havens" to save money. This, too, is true. It's something that both he and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have said they want to eliminate to make their tax cuts deficit-neutral. But for someone who used offshore accounts (Romney says he did not lower his tax bill through these accounts) and whose company did so as well, it comes off as ironic.
"Must be a joke," jested Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner, in a tweet.
UPDATE: Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded:
"Governor Romney has long said we need to simplify the tax code, close loopholes and create a more level playing field for American businesses. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be champions for small business, encouraging investment, entrepreneurship and innovation. President Obama's approach of raising taxes, increasing regulations and denigrating small businesses has led to 42 consecutive months of unemployment greater than eight percent and the weakest recovery America has ever seen."