WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- Mitt Romney on Friday encouraged young Americans facing bleak job prospects to "take risks" -- and borrow money from their parents -- to help improve their economic fortunes.
Romney noted that the nation's economy is recovering but blamed President Barack Obama for presiding over the "most anemic and tepid" comeback since the Great Depression. He said that Obama's policies make it harder for college graduates to be successful.
"This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success is very different than what we've seen in our country's history," Romney said at Otterbein University in central Ohio. "We've always encouraged young people -- take a shot, go for it, take a risk and get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business."
Romney then shared the story of sandwich magnate Jimmy John, who Romney said borrowed $20,000 from his parents to launch his first sandwich shop.
Never miss a local story.
"This is kind of an American experience," he said of John's story.
Romney's call for "economic freedom" was a familiar theme for the former Massachusetts governor, who faced the public for the first time since declaring himself the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting earlier in the week.
Some Democrats said his suggestion that young people borrow thousands of dollars from their parents shows that he's out of touch with ordinary Americans.
"Only someone who paid for college by selling stock given to him by his CEO father would just casually assume students could go borrow $20,000 from their parents to deal with the economic challenges they face," said Joshua Dorner, a spokesman for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1994, Ann Romney said her husband sold off stock that his father had bought for him so that they had money to live on as college students.
Romney's comments came the same day the Commerce Department reported that the nation's economy grew at a rate of 2.2 percent in the first three months of the year.