Let others get distracted by the news the day before that President Obama now personally supports gay marriage. Mitt Romney and Speaker John Boehner said Thursday they intended to stay on message and keep hitting the president in what they view as his Achilles heel — the economy.
Being that it's also the issue voters have in repeated polls said is most important to them, it was hard to argue with their decision.
On Fox News Thursday afternoon Romney, the all but official Republican presidential nominee, said he understood the gay marriage issue would be important to some people but....
ROMNEY: "Hopefully people are focusing on the major issues of the day which relate to our economy, getting people back to work."
He added that there are other issues like national security, specifically dealing with the threat represented by Iran potentially gaining nuclear weapons.
Later, when Fox anchor Neil Cavuto asked Romney if he thought a Washington Post story about alleged bullying by a teenaged Romney of a gay fellow prep schooler was meant to be a "distraction," Romney said:
"Well, I think you're going to find throughout this campaign season that the president's team will be doing everything in their power to try and hold up various shiny objects. Many of them will be in regard to me, some will be with regards the president's policies or promises of some new major giveaway.
"All these things designed to take people's eyes off the ball, which is the massive deficit this president has put in place, his inability to develop our energy resources in this country, his ObamaCare, which is not attractive at all to the American people. And an economy which is stumbling along, which should have recovered a long time ago, and as a result a lot of people are out of work.
"Those are the things I hear about. When I'm campaigning day in and day out, and taking questions from people on the rope line, in small meetings and town halls, it's the economy which is the focus of what they want to talk about. Obviously, the president doesn't want to talk about that."
Like Romney, Boehner made clear he was staying focused on the economy too. At his regular Thursday news conference, he swatted away various attempts by reporters to get him to fully engage on the same-sex marriage issue.
BOEHNER: "The president can talk about it all he wants. I'm going to stay focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on and that's jobs."
When a journalist asked him about a legislative effort by a House Republican to force the Executive Branch to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, Boehner said:
"Well, you know we have a lot of members who have ideas about what's important to them and you see those items advance here everyday. The American people are concerned about our economy. They're concerned about jobs.
"That's why you've seen us focused in the last year and a half on jobs and cutting spending because our debt and our deficit are like a wet blanket hanging over our economy. So we're going to continue to stay focused on what the American people want us to stay focused on."
Responding to the news conference's final question, another that wasn't on his preferred topic, he said before walking away from the podium:
"I'm going to stay focused on jobs."
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