Mitt Romney, addressing former President Bill Clinton’s annual global charitable gathering in New York on Tuesday morning, called for an overhaul of the country’s foreign assistance programs that he said would stimulate economic growth across the developing world.

On the same morning that President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, Romney largely muted his continuing sharp criticism of Obama’s foreign policies, specifically of the president’s response to the deadly protests sweeping the Middle East this month. But he did include a subtle jab at Obama, saying, “I will never apologize for America.”

Instead, the Republican presidential nominee sought to find some common ground in his 17-minute speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. After Clinton delivered a warm introduction of Romney, and after Romney heaped praise on the former president, Romney announced his plans for a “Prosperity Pact” program that he said would link trade policy with development policy to promote investment and entrepreneurship in developing nations. 

“Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy – and that is that free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation,” Romney said.

Romney’s foreign aid plan, which he called “a new approach for a new era,” echoes the domestic policy themes of his campaign. Under his plan, the government’s foreign aid would be more closely linked to trade policies as well as private investment and corporate partnerships. He said this could “empower individuals, encourage innovators and reward entrepreneurs.”