Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of leading by "discredited" and "failed policies of the past" and said it's time for "new ideas, new answers and a new direction" for the country.
Speaking at a community college in Lansing, Mich., on Tuesday, Romney said Americans are "tired of living on the edge" when it comes to jobs and the economy and insisted Obama's attempts to turn the country around have been a "catastrophe."
"He is asking us ... to look only to the years ahead, to consider how much better his policies will make things down the road," Romney said. "But in our hearts we know."
In a not-so-subtle dig at Obama's re-election slogan, "Forward," the presumptive Republican nominee said Obama is actually taking the country backward.
"We know that America is going in the wrong direction. Not forward, but sideways or worse," Romney declared.
The former Massachusetts governor mocked "Julia," a recent Obama campaign outreach effort that featured how the president's policies would affect a fictional woman over the course of her life.
"What does it say about a president's policies when he has to use a cartoon character rather than real people to justify his record?" Romney asked.
Speaking in Michigan, a state that has been hard hit by the recession, Romney made no significant mention of the auto bailout measures passed by Obama that he opposed. But in an interview Monday with Cleveland's WEWS-TV, the ex-governor offered a new spin on his approach to the auto bailouts, arguing that Obama had essentially taken his advice.
"I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet," Romney told WEWS. "So, I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back."
In a conference call ahead of Romney's Lansing speech, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt lambasted the GOP candidate's remarks, calling them "a new low."
"This is a candidate who will literally say anything," LaBolt said.
But Romney did not repeat his comments in Michigan. Instead, he used the speech to trumpet other policy issues that he frequently addresses on the stump.
Among other things, Romney pledged to repeal Obama's health care reform law and replace it with something that would work "more like a consumer market," allowing individuals to buy their own insurance. And he pledged to "usher in a revival of American manufacturing," in part by embracing a "new and different direction on energy."
But as Romney works to improve his image with voters, the presumptive nominee also delivered a vigorous defense of his tenure at the venture capital firm Bain Capital, arguing it would be an asset to the White House.
"I spent my business career at the leading edge of change. For my first 10 years, I helped advise enterprises across the country as the economic world changed," Romney said. "Some companies were able to adapt to change, and others were not. Our task was always the same—to see the impact of change and to see the future in ways that others had not."
Romney said he had helped "start new businesses or invested in businesses that needed to improve" and looked for opportunities to open new companies even as their old incarnations were "shutting down."
"Finding solutions and opportunities in an environment of change and turbulence is what I learned in my career," Romney said. "And it is something I can bring to the presidency."
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