TORRANCE . (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ought to rethink his comments about California after comparing the state to struggling European nations.
While visiting a Frito-Lay distribution center near Los Angeles, Brown dismissed Romney's remarks as inaccurate in light of California's relatively manageable debt burden and economic wealth.
The Democratic governor's comments came a day after Romney jokingly compared California to debt-burdened European countries such as Greece and Spain during a campaign stop in Iowa. Brown, who had unsuccessful runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976, 1980 and 1992, said Romney's remark was "just silly."
"We're one of the richest economies in the world," Brown told reporters during an event showcasing Frito Lay's fleet of electric trucks. "We're the ninth richest nation-state. So I think the governor better rethink some of his thoughts because they're not accurate."
California's $1.9 trillion economy is the world's ninth largest. And unlike a country, which can run a deficit, California is constitutionally required to adopt a balanced budget each year.
It has done so in part by cutting tens of billions of dollars from state services since the recession began, and Brown wants to stop the cycle this year by asking California voters to increase sales and income taxes temporarily.
While California has the nation's third highest unemployment rate, it is no danger of the fiscal calamity befalling Europe's most debt-ridden countries.
The credit rating agency Standard & Poor's last year rejected comparisons between California's annual budget deficits and the financial problems of Greece, noting in part that California has a more diverse economy.
On the campaign trail, Romney warned voters in Iowa that President Barack Obama is leading the nation down a similar path of huge debt to European countries.
"Entrepreneurs and business people around the world and here at home think that at some point America is going to become like Greece or like Spain or Italy, or like California — just kidding about that one, in some ways," he added, to laughter from his audience.
Romney and his wife own an oceanfront home in the San Diego community of La Jolla.