MARION, Iowa – Mitt Romney swooped through one of his Iowa strongholds Monday afternoon and rallied hundreds of supporters on the eve of the caucuses by attacking President Obama with some of the harshest rhetoric he has used in this campaign.

View Photo Gallery: The PostPolitics team used the iPhone app Instagram and the tag #2012Unfiltered to document the week leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

Romney accused Obama of turning the United States into “a European-style welfare state,” saying Obama’s policies would “poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.”

“I’ve watched a president just become the great divider, the great explainer, the great excuse-giver, the great blamer,” Romney said. “I want to have an America that comes together. I’m an optimist. I believe in the future of America. I’m not a pessimist. I believe that this country can be as it’s always been, the shining city on a hill — but not by turning into Europe or anything like Europe, but by being quintessentially American.”

Romney was visibly energized by the reception he received in this eastern Iowa town just outside of Cedar Rapids, one of Romney’s strongest-performing areas in the 2008 race. The more than 300 people who packed into a chilly warehouse here gave Romney the loudest and most sustained applause he has received over seven days of campaigning in Iowa.

Romney told his supporters that he needs “every single vote in this room,” and projected confidence that he would become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

“We’re gonna win this thing with all of our passion and strength and do everything we can to get this campaign on the right track to go across the nation and to pick up other states and to get the ballots I need and the votes I need to become our nominee,” Romney said as he closed the rally.

This was Romney’s third of four rallies Monday, and as at the other stops, he was joined on stage by his wife, Ann, three of their sons — Tagg, Josh and Craig — as well as Sen. John Thune (S.D.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (S.D.).

“We’ve tried the community organizer approach and it hasn’t worked so well,” Thune said, making a swipe at Obama as he introduced Romney. “We need somebody who has real world experience.”

Romney, who has been rather punchy on the campaign trail this past week, playfully introduced his wife as “my girlfriend.”

“I know this looks like the youngest in the family, the daughter of the family, but actually that’s my girlfriend,” Romney said, motioning to his wife.

He said he first met Ann when she was in the second grade and he was in the fourth grade.

“I didn’t pay much attention at that point because she was so young, but then when she was turning 16, I paid a lot of attention,” Romney said. “We’ve been going steady ever since.”


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