TAMPA — As Republicans gathered during their national convention Tuesday morning, a handful of Democrats met blocks away from the Tampa Bay Times Forum and discussed the disadvantages of Mitt Romney's economic plan for the middle class.
The group was composed of government officials and business owners who argued that Romney's plan would benefit the rich and hurt the poor.
"America moves forward on the strength of our middle class," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said at a news conference in downtown Tampa. "There is more progress in our jobs. A stronger, growing middle class means a stronger, growing American economy, and that's really what this election is all about."
O'Malley mentioned that Romney's business experience, including a stint as CEO of Bain Capital, is not the kind of experience that creates jobs.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agreed, pointing to Romney's business past that includes firing workers and outsourcing jobs, he said.
"Romney was a job destroyer. Not a job creator," Villaraigosa said. "Now Mitt Romney is proposing the same top-down approach. . . . It's pretty clear Romney economics would be a disaster for the middle class."
Randy Johnson, a former Bain Capital employee, said he personally knows Romney's intentions. When Romney took over the paper plant where Johnson was working in 1994, jobs were cut and wages were lowered, he said.
"I saw first-hand how Mitt Romney and his economics and his philosophies in businesses," Johnson said, "how they worked, how they hurt families and workers and communities we live in."
The group also discussed Romney's time in office as Massachusetts governor. While governor, Romney raised taxes and small businesses struggled, said Joe Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, Mass. "He would do the same thing as president," he said.
Romney, Curtatone added, does not understand the kind of local businesses "that really make a town home and succeed."
The Romney campaign disagreed with the Democrats' assessment of their candidate's record.
"Today, as we learn that more than a quarter of Democrats believe President Obama does not have a clear plan for creating jobs, his surrogates in Tampa continued to launch false and baseless attacks against Governor Romney," campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. "The facts speak for themselves – with 23 million Americans struggling for work, nearly one in six Americans living in poverty, and median incomes declining, the Obama campaign cannot defend a record of broken promises and failed policies. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a plan to strengthen the middle class by creating jobs and turning around our economy."