DUBUQUE, Iowa—Mitt Romney abandoned his campaign bus briefly to take a boat trip up the Mississippi River in this eastern Iowa town, his second stop on day four of his five-day tour of six battleground states.
As he has at other stops on his itinerary, Romney used the occasion to hammer President Barack Obama on the economy. But it's tougher to hit home his message in Iowa, which is doing better economically than other key swing states. Among other things, Iowa's unemployment rate is currently 5.2 percent—several points lower than the national average.
As he has in recent days, Romney tweaked his stump speech a bit to acknowledge the reality that the economy has shown signs of improvement since Obama took office in 2009. But, speaking to a small group of supporters on "The Spirit of Dubuque," Romney said Obama doesn't deserve credit for any recovery.
"He doesn't understand how the policies he put in place made it harder for this economy to recover," Romney said. "And so today, I hope things are getting better. I think they are, the economy. I sure hope so. But it's no thanks to him. It's in spite of him."
Romney used his sailing occasion to offer a metaphor about his family life, describing them as an "anchor" in his life.
"I've learned in my life that it helps to have anchors," Romney said. "It helps to have understandings and values that are so superb that you can anchor your life and anchor all the things you're doing to values that are permanent and enduring. My family is my anchor. My wife, my kids, those elements of my life have brought me more joy than I ever would have imagined."
He also described the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as an "anchor" for America.
Romney has one more stop in Iowa—a rally in nearby Davenport Monday night—where he's likely to remind voters of promises laid out in an economic speech Obama gave there just before his victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses. Afterwards, Romney flies to his home state of Michigan, where he's scheduled to hold several events Tuesday on what will be the final day of his bus tour of small town America.