AMES, Iowa — Seizing on fresh evidence of economic sluggishness, Republican challenger Mitt Romney said Friday that President Barack Obama inherited a bad situation when he took office and then made the problem worse. Obama campaigned from the White House 11 days before the election after a wearying, 40-hour circuit of battleground states.
Romney was unsparing in his criticism of the man he hopes to unseat. Despite all that he inherited, President Obama did not repair our economy, he did not save Medicare and Social Security, he did not tame the spending and borrowing, he did not reach across the aisle to bring us together, the former Massachusetts governor said.
The Republican challenger borrowed a theme from Obama's successful 2008 campaign, saying he and running mate Paul Ryan can bring real change to this country.
Democrats delighted in pointing out that Romney spoke outside Kinzler Construction Services, which benefitted from more than $650,000 in stimulus funding from the 2009 package Obama that signed into law — and the Republican nominee often criticizes.
Romney campaigned in Iowa and Ohio as national polls showed a tight race. Though his aides claimed momentum, citing recent polls, Obama's team said the president led or was tied in each of the nine battleground states where the two sides have concentrated hundreds of millions of dollars in television commercials over the past five months.
Back in the White House after his long day and night and day of campaigning, Obama said he looked forward to trying to reach a deal with congressional Republicans on a sweeping budget deal if he wins re-election. Asked by radio show host Michael Smerconish if he would make the first move, the president replied, I've said I'll do whatever's required to get this done.
And I think the key that the American people want right now is for us to tackle some big challenges that we face in a commonsense, balanced, sensible way. That was a reference to one of his biggest differences with Romney — his insistence that tax cuts be allowed to expire at upper incomes on Dec. 31, as opposed to Romney's insistence that they be extended.
Obama has been under pressure from Romney in recent days to be more specific about a second-term agenda, and he released a 20-page pamphlet earlier this week. He also had interviews with MTV and several battleground-state television stations on his schedule for the day.
Obama's strategists appeared concerned about the impact of Romney's persistent attacks on the president's position on Israel, airing a commercial in the West Palm Beach, Fla., area, home to a large number of Jewish voters.