President Barack Obama on Friday championed his efforts to help underwater homeowners get back on their feet, while Republican Mitt Romney blamed "the same old liberal policies of the past" for what he called the most tepid economic recovery since the Great Depression.
Obama returned to the topic of housing while in Nevada, where he said, "It's going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover — more time than any of us would like." Nevada was hit hardest by the housing bust four years ago, and is also a swing state whose support he needs to win re-election.
Obama also announced a dramatic spike in the number of Americans who are taking advantage of federal programs that let them refinance their loans.
The programs, Obama said, allow homeowners to reduce their monthly payments because of historically low interest rates, which in turn stabilizes the housing market by reducing the risk of foreclosure.
Obama's visit to Nevada was part of a national tour in which he has promoted a five-point congressional "to-do" list — programs he has already proposed but that Congress has yet to take up.
Meanwhile presumptive GOP nominee Romney stood on the floor of a Charlotte, N.C., manufacturing plant on Friday, telling voters, "(Obama) said he would measure progress on whether we're creating new jobs or not. Yet we've had a record number of foreclosures — I see families really struggling."
Romney's second visit to the city in a month took place just blocks from where Obama will accept the Democratic nomination in September. The trip came the same week his campaign began ramping up operations in what's expected to be a key battleground state this fall, one Obama carried by just 14,000 votes in 2008.
Only three states and the District of Columbia had higher March unemployment rates than North Carolina's 9.7 percent. But Romney's speech, which lasted less than 15 minutes, was short on specifics.