Former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. - AFP Photo

WASHINGTON: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Monday berated Democratic President Barack Obama for showing more interest in golf than in solving the nation's woes, but the US leader's party hit back.

“This president has been a failure,” Romney said in a phoned-in message to a town hall meeting.

“The other day I understand that (New Jersey Governor) Chris Christie said that (Obama) was a bystander president. That he watches affairs and has not guided affairs.”

Romney, a businessman and ex-Massachusetts governor, charged: His idea of a 'hands on' approach to the economy is getting a grip on his golf club. He's going off for 17 days in Hawaii.

“He'll be playing a lot of golf.” Obama “told Congress that they need to stay in session and pass his tax breaks for the payroll tax and that they shouldn't leave for vacation until they did that.

And yet, he's going off for 17 days and for golf in the sun, “I just think it's time to have a president whose idea of being 'hands on' doesn't mean getting a better grip on the golf club,” Romney joked.

However, the Democratic National Committee swiftly retorted: “As Governor, Romney spent 212 days of his last year as governor outside Massachusetts.

“With Romney phoning-it-in so much, it's little wonder that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 (US states) in job creation on his watch.”

The latest surveys show former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich in a solid lead ahead of previous Republican frontrunner Romney in the battle for the nomination to challenge Democrat Obama next November.


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