AMES, Iowa—Mitt Romney again cast himself as an agent of change who is better equipped than President Barack Obama to turn around the nation's economy.
With just over a week to go before Election Day, Romney aides described the candidate's speech at a rally in this battleground state as his closing argument to voters. He mostly stuck with a stump speech he has been delivering in recent days, one that included a heavy emphasis on change and his ability to be a bipartisan leader in Washington.
Romney, co-opting Obama's 2008 mantra of "change," vowed that if elected he will bring "real change" to a country at an economic turning point. "[Change] requires that we put aside the small and petty and demand the scale of change we deserve. We need real change, big change."
Obama, he added, "spoke to the scale of the times" four years ago, but now "shrinks from it." He accused his opponent of being too focused on attacks instead of working to confront big issues.
"Four years ago, America voted for a post-partisan president, but they have seen the most partisan and political of presidents, and a Washington in gridlock because of it," he said.
As he has done in recent weeks, Romney, speaking to a few thousand people here, repeatedly cast himself as someone who will rise above the partisan rancor in the nation's capital. He pointed to his record of working with Democrats as a Republican governor of Massachusetts and to his leadership as head of the 2002 Winter Olympics and in the private sector.
Romney's remarks sounded like something Obama would have said during his run four years ago. If elected, the GOP nominee promised to "work tirelessly to bridge the divide between the political parties." He vowed to meet with both Democrats and Republicans regularly and look for "common ground and shared principals."
He also sought to disarm Obama's claim that he inherited a troubled economy by insisting the president didn't do enough with what he had to work with, including a country full of people who have always "risen to the occasion." The country, he insisted, as he has at almost every campaign stop in recent months, can't take "another four years like the last four years."
In response, Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, dismissed Romney's remarks as "dishonest attacks" and empty promises.
"The only change Romney's offering is to take us back to the same failed policies that crashed our economy in the first place," Smith said. "That's not the change we need, and with every 'major speech,' Mitt Romney just reminds voters that's all he's got to offer."