Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event… (David Goldman / Associated…)
WEST ALLIS, Wis.— As the crowd here chanted “Four – More – Days” in unison during a raucous rally Friday, Mitt Romney offered his closing argument: framing the choice in Tuesday’s election as between “more of the same” and “real change.”
In a sharply critical speech that Romney was still writing as his campaign plane lifted off for Wisconsin from Virginia on Friday morning, the former Massachusetts governor said he would be more committed than the president to working in a spirit of bipartisanship in Washington. He argued that President Obama had promised to be a post-partisan president, but had been unable to find common ground with Republican leaders and went on to accuse Obama of “blaming, attacking, dividing.”
Outlining his usual critiques of what he describes as the president’s lack of economic expertise, Romney also tried to lay the burden of higher gas prices at Obama’s feet — telling the crowd that the average American family pays $2,000 more a year for gasoline than in 2008. (The White House has no direct control over the price of oil, which is set by the commodities market.)
Romney argued that another four years under Obama would mean “$20 trillion in debt, crippling unemployment, stagnant take-home pay, depressed home values and a devastated military.” Romney, who donned a suit and used teleprompters, told the crowd that unless the nation changes course on Tuesday “we may be looking at another recession.”
“President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it,” Romney said. “I built a business, and turned around another,” he said, referring to his role as a co-founder of Bain Capital and his efforts to rescue Bain Consulting in the early 1990s when it went through a rough period. “I helped put an Olympics back on track. And with a Democratic Legislature, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus, from job losses to job growth, and from higher taxes to higher take-home pay.”
“If you believe we can do better, if you believe America should be on a better course, if you are tired of being tired, then I ask you to vote for real change,” he said. “Paul Ryan and I will bring real change to America, from Day One.”
Romney’s speech in Wisconsin on Friday morning came as Obama sprinted across Ohio, with events planned in Springfield, Hilliard and Lima.
After leaving coastal Virginia early Friday morning, Romney headed out on a four-state tour that will end in New Hampshire late Friday night after stops in the suburbs of Columbus and Cincinnati. He will meet up with Ryan, his running mate, and Ryan’s family in Cincinnati.
Romney gave a nod to Ryan, who lives in Janesville, Wis., during his visit to the Badger state. “Next to Ann Romney, Paul Ryan is the best choice I’ve ever made,” he said to whoops and cheers from the crowd at the fairgrounds here.
Romney plans to crisscross the country Saturday, holding rallies in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado Springs before returning to Des Moines to spend the night.
Encroaching on what has long been viewed as safe turf for his rival, Romney also plans to make a Sunday stop in Yardley, Pa. —a state where he is facing long odds. But he told an overflow crowd in Wisconsin that the election would likely be “a turnout election” and urged them to knock on doors and make final voter calls this weekend.
“We ask you to stay all the way to the finish line,” he said, “because we are going to win on Tuesday night.”