TROY, Mich. -- Embracing his Michigan roots during an afternoon rally Thursday, Mitt Romney steered clear of passing judgment on Texas Gov. Rick Perry's embarrassing memory lapse during Thursday night's debate and sought to turn the conversation back to his economic plans.
"You know I have to worry enough about my own moments," Romney said during a brief exchange about Perry with a reporter after his speech at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy. "I do my best and don't worry about the other guys," he said, hurrying from one side of the room to the other to greet supporters.
"I was much more concerned about how I was doing. I wish everyone else the very best."
As Perry's campaign has flailed in recent weeks and Herman Cain has grappled with allegations of sexual harassment, Romney's campaign has tried to frame the former Massachusetts governor as the most steady, reliable candidate in the race.
Hoping to win over voters who have become disenchanted with the other candidates, Romney has carefully avoided disparaging his rivals for their missteps (though he did say earlier this week that the allegations against Cain were "very serious").
Romney was surrounded by family at the rally that featured the 180-piece Troy Colts Marching Band. Speaking not far from where he grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Romney was introduced by his niece and invited one of his five sons, Tagg, up on stage: "We have five just like him; the others are better looking," the candidate joked.
His wife, Ann, who also grew up in Michigan and began dating her husband as a teenager, spoke of Michigan as home and noted that she and Romney spent time on rival lakes.
"I was a Manistee girl on Lake Michigan when I was a girl; Mitt was a Lake Huron guy -- so there you go, we have the competing lakes," Ann said. "But we love Michigan."
Noting that Romney won the primary here in 2008, she added, "We're looking forward to the next, the next -- "
"Victory," Romney interjected.
Romney, who has come under fire from Democrats for opposing the auto bailouts that President Barack Obama has credited with saving 1 million jobs, reminisced about his father's tenure as Michigan's governor and as head of an auto company. Comparing Michigan's heyday to its current struggle (with the third highest unemployment in the country), he said Obama's economic policies had contributed to the problem.
"I drove through parts of Detroit this morning," Romney said. "It breaks my heart, I have to tell you, to see the city the way I see it now. I remember Detroit as the pride of the nation -- great jobs."
"I know what this city can be and was, 'cause I saw it then," he continued. "And I know what this country is headed towards if we take the policies that we've seen in the last three years and continue them. ... Almost everything he (Obama) did made it harder for this economy to turn around."
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