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Romney Chides Obama For Not Fixing Housing Crisis

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: I'm Ari Shapiro traveling with the Romney campaign. Mitt Romney has spent a lot of his time in Florida talking about home foreclosures.

MITT ROMNEY: Do you realize? One quarter of all the foreclosed homes in America are in Florida.

SHAPIRO: Yesterday afternoon, he stood in front of a foreclosed house in Lehigh Acres in southwest Florida, while voters sweating in the sun listened to Romney's assessment of the situation.

ROMNEY: We've got a troubled economy. People lose homes as they lose their jobs.

SHAPIRO: This is a useful subject for Romney to focus on. Not only because the statistics here are so dire, but also because the housing crisis is one of the few problems that Romney can use to attack both of his two favorite targets - Newt Gingrich and President Obama. Romney says Mr. Obama may not have caused the disaster, but in three years he hasn't fixed it either.

ROMNEY: If you're thinking about jobs and you're wondering how to get this economy going, look at what the president did and do the opposite.

SHAPIRO: He said Mr. Obama's banking regulations have made it harder for banks to get rid of the bad loans on their books. And as for Newt Gingrich, the housing allows Romney to renew one of his favorite lines of attack – ripping the mortgage giants that Romney says helped cause the disaster.

ROMNEY: Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are a large reason why our housing crisis has occurred. And I'm running against a guy, as you know, in this primary who was out working for one of these guys, for Freddie Mac.

Romney stayed on the attack yesterday, not saying a word about the tax returns that were all over the news. They show that he made about $20 million from his investments in each of the last two years, while paying just about 15 percent in taxes. Romney supporters here like Janice Balance say they're okay with that.

JANICE BALANCE: I don't see nothing wrong with it. He worked all his life and built his self up. He deserves whatever he gets.

SHAPIRO: Today, Romney heads south to court a different demographic. In Miami, he'll participate in a televised meet the candidates forum on the Spanish language network Univision. Then he meets with Cuban voters before flying back to northern Florida again to prepare for his next meeting with Gingrich at Thursday night's debate in Jacksonville.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Orlando. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ari Shapiro
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.