NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mitt Romney's campaign shifted Tuesday to one number: 23 million. A day after Barack Obama's campaign slammed the presumed GOP nominee for shuttering a steel mill in 2001 that once employed 4,500 people, Romney returned fire with a message that hit the president for some 23 million people who are currently unemployed, underemployed or not actively seeking work.
"Millions of Americans are struggling under the Obama economy," a narrator says in the video, which broadcasts interviews with three Iowa residents who said they have struggled through Obama's term. "Hope and change has not been kind to millions of Americans, but they still believe in this great country, and deserve a leader who believes in them: Mitt Romney." Romney's decision to pivot to the 23 million contrasts Obama's smear against his business record a decade ago. Romney's four-minute Web video, like Obama's steel-mill video on Monday, relied on individuals struck by poor economic circumstances to guide the story. Romney, a principal at Bain Capital when the company shuttered the GST Steel mill, had his campaign on Monday snap back at the president after the stinging Web video went public. "President Obama and his billion-dollar attack machine are desperately trying to distract from their own failed record of wasteful spending and crony capitalism by launching an attack on free enterprise," said spokeswoman Andrea Saul. The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment situation data for April found 12.5 million persons unemployed, 7.9 million underemployed and 2.4 million who hadn't searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey. That comes in at 22.8 million, slightly below Romney's 23 million claim. Former Obama-appointed "car czar" Steven Rattner, who the administration tapped to lead the team that eventually devised the bailout plan for the American automotive giants, called Obama's ad on Monday unfair and said Bain Capital's responsibility was to create profits for shareholders, not to create 100,000 jobs. -- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.