Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets House Majority… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
DOSWELL, Va. — Mitt Romney turned to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Thursday and asked when he had last sat down with President Obama to discuss jobs, the economy or the budget. When the Virginia congressman replied that it had been nearly a year, Romney seized upon the point to argue how he would govern differently if elected president.
“Let me tell you -- for me to get the things done, I just described I'm going to have to reach across the aisle and meet with good Democrats who love America, just like you love America, and there are, there are good Democrats like that,” he told more than 1,000 people gathered at Meadow Event Park, the birthplace of the racehorse Secretariat. “I'm going to meet regularly with Democrat leaders and Republican leaders. I won't do that once a year; when I say regularly I mean much more frequently than that, because we're going to have to work together. These are critical times.”
As the Republican nominee makes his closing pitch to voters with five days to go in the presidential contest, he has been highlighting bipartisan collaboration as a key way he would work to right the nation’s economy and get the government moving toward a balanced budget.
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At the start of the week, Romney had initially planned to spend each day focused on a different policy area on whch he would act on Day 1 of a Romney presidency. He started with taxes, but the plan blew up as he took time off the campaign trail because of the super storm Sandy.
Now, he is stressing bipartisanship and arguing that Obama’s failure to work with congressional Republicans is the cause of dysfunction in Washington. And he is attacking Obama as a representative of the status quo, using statistics about the nation’s struggling economy to argue that another term for the Democrat would mean more of the same.
“I mean, do you want to see four more years of 23 million Americans struggling for a good job?,” he asked, and the crowd boomed “No!”
“Do you want to see four more years of rising taxes? Do you want to see four more years with higher and higher gasoline prices? Do you want to see four more years with Washington in gridlock? Look, I know the president wants to see four more years, and that’s his chant: ‘Four more years, four more years.’ But our chant is this: 'Five more days, five more days.'”
The crowd took the cue and began chanting “Five more days!”
Romney’s line of attack against the president is strikingly different than it was during the summer, when he delivered fiery denunciations of Obama’s politics and world-view. "Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago, and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America," Romney said in Chillicothe, Ohio, in August.
Kevin Madden, a senior advisor to Romney, said that the nominee was focused on delivering a positive, optimistic message.
“For the remainder of the campaign, from here all the way till election day, the governor does want to talk about specifically what he would do on Day 1 as president in order to get the country back on track and help fix the economy,” Madden told reporters aboard Romney’s campaign plane on Wednesday.
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The points Romney is highlighting are staples in his five-point plan that he says would create 12 million jobs – increasing domestic energy production, reducing federal spending, helping small business by reducing regulation and taxes and improving training programs for workers and schools for children, and increasing trade in places like Latin America while cracking down on China as a currency manipulator.
Thursday’s message focused on an 82-year-old Virginia barbecue restaurant that closed its last outlet in September. Romney visited with the owners earlier in the day and used their story to argue how small business has suffered under Obama’s tenure.
But while Romney is focused on an optimistic appeal, his campaign is airing biting ads in battleground states, such as spots about the auto bailout and welfare that are being denounced by fact checkers.
Romney is also ramping up his schedule in the remaining days, planning to crisscross the nation with multiple events in multiple states leading up to election day. He plans to begin the barnstorming with a massive rally in Ohio on Friday with scores of his top surrogates, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Govs. Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry, Sens. Marco Rubio and John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
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