Mitt Romney Sharpens Attack on "Crony Capitalism"

Unveiling what may become a central theme of his presidential campaign, Gov. Mitt Romney on Thursday blasted President Barack Obama’s controversial decision to circumnavigate congressional approval of his three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as yet another example that Obama is a “crony capitalist” and “jobs killer.”

At an event in Salem, New Hampshire, Mr. Romney laid out his case that Mr. Obama uses political appointments to reward his supporters–in this case Big Labor–and political cronies:

Yesterday the president did one more thing, an extraordinary thing, that convinces anybody who will go elsewhere that maybe they ought to go elsewhere. And that is that he said “I ought to put more labor stooges on the National Labor Relations Board.”

Mr. Obama’s decision to appoint the controversial NLRB nominees was hailed by liberal Democrats like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who said “we’re glad that the President took the lead, went out there, it was bold and made the appointments.”

Mr. Romney, however, saw Mr. Obama’s NLRB recess appointments as further evidence of crony capitalism:

Capitalism, free enterprise works. Crony capitalism does not. This president has engaged and is engaging in crony capitalism. It’s happening with the National Labor Relations Board where he’s paying back the big unions that helped his campaign. This president is a crony capitalist. He’s a job killer.

Mr. Romney’s “crony capitalism” attack appears to be part of a strategy to frame many of Mr. Obama’s controversial decisions, such as his so-called “green energy” loans through the Department of Energy’s loan program, as forms of political payback to supporters and donors.

(The Huffington Post claims that Romney “stole” the attack on crony capitalism from Rep. Michele Bachmann, but in fact that attack was first launched by Gov. Sarah Palin on September 3, 2011, in Indianola, IA.)

At a 500-person rally in Charleston, South Carolina with Sen. John McCain, Mr. Romney said, “The president said he wants to create green jobs. We misunderstood. He wants to give jobs to the people who gave him the green.”

Indeed, as Peter Schweizer’s bestselling book, Throw Them All Out, revealed, of the $20 billion doled out through the Department of Energy’s loan program, 80 percent of the loans went to companies owned by or involved with Mr. Obama’s top bundlers and donors.

Given Mr. Romney’s use of the “crony capitalism” attack in both New Hampshire and South Carolina, it appears the Romney Campaign believes the strategy is striking a nerve with Republican primary voters.

Given the latest polls in those states, they’re right.