The Republican nominee effectively is co-opting Obama’s change message of 2008, casting himself as an energetic reformer while arguing that the president would continue leading the nation down a “status quo path.”
“The American people now have to recognize that given the big challenges and the big election we have, it’s time for a big change — and Paul Ryan and I represent a big change for America,” Romney told some 3,000 supporters in Worthington. “We’re finally going to tackle the problems politicians have spoken about for years but haven’t been willing to deal with.”
Romney kicked off two days of campaigning across Ohio, which has emerged as the central battleground, by starting to make his closing argument to voters here. He plans to deliver a major economic address Friday in Iowa that advisers said would more fully lay out what he sees as the choice American voters face.
“This is a critical time for our country, and the choice of paths we choose will have an enormous impact,” Romney said in Cincinnati. He talked about the nation’s poor-performing schools, rising debt and stubborn joblessness. “These challenges are big challenges. This election is, therefore, a big choice. And America wants to see big changes, and we’re gonna bring big changes to get America stronger again.”
The big change Romney is prescribing to put the nation back on course is of the conservative economic variety — lowering taxes, loosening regulations, reining in deficit spending, overhauling Medicare and shrinking the size and scope of the federal government. He infused his pitch with a spirit of bipartisanship as he tries to soften his image with independent voters, particularly women.
Although Romney has gained in recent weeks in state and national polls, he still lags slightly behind Obama in most Ohio polls. The Democrats appear to have an edge so far in early voting, although Romney is banking on a higher turnout on Election Day. Two senior Romney aides published a memo Thursday claiming a “steady upward trajectory” for Romney and arguing that the state was “unmistakably moving in Mitt Romney’s direction.”
Underscoring the urgency of winning Ohio, Romney spent the whole day here Thursday after two days of hopping around a slew of other swing states. After stopping by a Cincinnati diner in the morning (he ordered an omelet, potatoes and grits for $7.99), Romney traveled about 300 miles by bus.
Romney tried to build enthusiasm among his supporters and win over the few voters who remain undecided by projecting optimism. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced Romney on the stump, saying he would “bring back the hope.”