Mitt Romney begins closing argument with speech promising to revitalize economy
AMES, Iowa — Mitt Romney is promising to revitalize the nation's economy with "bold ideas" and a senior aide said the Republican presidential candidate would not cut ties with an Indiana Senate candidate who said pregnancy resulting from rape is "something God intended."
As President Barack Obama took a break from the campaign trail, Romney delivered what his campaign billed as a major economic address in swing state Iowa on Friday to help win the dwindling number of voters yet to make up their minds. While the speech did not break new ground, it was designed to help crystalize the differences between his and Obama's economic approaches less than two weeks before Election Day.
"If Paul Ryan and I are elected as your president and vice president, we will endeavor with all our hearts and energy to restore America," Romney said. "Instead of more spending, more borrowing from China and higher taxes from Washington, we'll renew our faith in the power of free people pursuing their dreams."
Minutes before the speech, senior strategist Eric Fehrnstrom said Romney would not call on Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock to remove TV ads featuring Romney's endorsement. Fehrnstrom said Romney disagrees with the Indiana Republican's recent comment about rape, but would not interfere with Mourdock's advertising.
"That's his decision," Fehrnstrom said when asked whether the campaign wants Mourdock to remove the ads. He added that Romney feels he has addressed the matter and doesn't plan to discuss it further.
Romney has not spoken about Mourdock's comments directly, despite repeated questions from reporters about it in recent days.
The candidate was focused on the economy as he addressed several hundred supporters on a cold autumn day outside a local construction company.
Romney argued that Obama has no proposals that can meet "the challenges of the times." He dismissed the president's signature legislative achievement, a health care law, as "his vaunted Obamacare" and said he would instead focus on saving Medicare and Social Security.
He repeated many of his standard campaign themes: that Obama is focusing on small issues like "characters on Sesame Street and silly word games" and that Romney will improve kitchen-table concerns like health care, job creation and school choice. His signature refrain is that America can't afford another four years like the last four years.
The speech came hours after the government reported a slight pickup in economic growth in the final such report before the Nov. 6 election.
The pickup to 2 percent from July to September from the 1.3 percent in the second quarter may help Obama's message that the economy is improving. Still, growth remains too weak to rapidly boost hiring. And the 1.74 percent rate for 2012 trails last year's 1.8 percent growth. Romney called the news "discouraging."
"Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay," Romney said in a statement. "This is what four years of President Obama's policies have produced."
The White House had a more positive take on the news in a blog post by Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. "While we have more work to do, together with other economic indicators, this report provides further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction," he wrote. Obama got better news from a survey out of the University of Michigan showing consumer confidence rising to its highest level in five years.
An Associated Press-GfK poll out this week shows Romney overtaking Obama as the candidate that likely voters trust more to handle the economy. The poll found 51 percent of those voters surveyed Oct. 19-23 picking Romney, compared to 44 percent for Obama. The two candidates were tied among likely voters on that issue in the previous poll in mid-September.
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