Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign… (Whitney Curtis / Getty Images )
ST. LOUIS -- Arguing that growing government control of the economy threatens the country's freedom, Mitt Romney on Thursday said President Obama is trying to transform the United States into a nation that is starkly at odds with its founding.
"America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. That's where he’s taking us. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity, and we know where that transformation leads," Romney told several hundred supporters gathered in a factory that produces equipment that protects soldiers from chemical, biological and nuclear threats.
"There are other nations that have chosen that path," Romney said. "It leads to high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages, and, yeah, Greece. I don't want to transform America. I want to restore to America the principles that made us the hope of the Earth."
Romney made the remarks in Missouri, which has 10 electoral votes and is a state that Sen. John McCain won over Obama by 0.12% in 2008.
Romney's speech was new -- instead of a collection of vignettes of suffering Americans he has met on the campaign trail and stories about his time leading Massachusetts and the Olympics, the remarks were more sweeping about the stark differences between his and the president's worldviews. But Romney offered no new policy, a fact seized on by Obama's campaign.
"In yet another in a long line of 'major' economic speeches, Mitt Romney offered no new ideas and no new policies that would actually grow the economy and strengthen the middle class," said spokeswoman Lis Smith. "Mitt Romney has promised to use his experience to turn around the economy, but all he has offered to date are negative and dishonest speeches tearing down President Obama."
In his remarks, Romney argued that the government under Obama has breached faith with and morally failed Americans because of its inability to right the nation's economy. The president, Romney said, puts more faith in government bureaucrats than Americans, leading to a world in which citizens are reliant on the government for permission on how they live their lives, from what they can buy to who they can hire.
Romney painted himself as a champion of the free-enterprise system who would turn around the economy by lowering taxes, relaxing regulations, increasing trade and energy production and issuing waivers to states concerning Obama's healthcare law.
"I am absolutely convinced we can prosper again," he said. "... All this can be more than our hope, it can be our future. It can begin this year. We don't have to wait; it can begin this year on November 6th."