CINCINNATI (AP) — Unveiling a new campaign speech, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney vowed Saturday to lead America to a "winning season" and insisted that his party would stick to the promises of fiscal responsibility that it had abandoned in the past.
"We're going to finally have to do something that Republicans have spoken about for a long time, and for a while we didn't do it. When we had the lead, we let people down," Romney told a roaring crowd in Ohio as House Speaker John Boehner, a longtime congressional leader, stood behind him. "We need to make sure we don't let them down this time. I will cut the deficit and get us on track to a balanced budget."
The former Massachusetts governor blames President Barack Obama, a Democrat, for the country's exploding debt and deficits.
Romney himself has not yet provided enough policy detail to show whether his budget plan would cut the deficit in the long term. The budget that his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, wrote and that House Republicans passed this year shows a decline in the deficit each year from 2013 until 2017, when it is forecast to be $488 billion. But beginning in 2019, it begins rising again each year through 2022, when it is forecast to be $728 billion.
Two days after accepting his party's nomination, Romney rolled out a pared-down version of his acceptance speech. His Ohio appearance was the first of two campaign events planned for Saturday. Those were his last scheduled public appearances before he spends a few days in New England preparing for three debates planned in October with Obama.
A Romney spokesman said the campaign currently has no public events planned for the most competitive states during the Democratic National Convention that starts Tuesday, and that Romney would be sequestered with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman preparing for the debates. Obama campaigned in three battleground states last week during Romney's Republican National Convention.
Ryan, the vice presidential nominee, will campaign in Greenville, N.C., Monday, and other Romney allies also will make appearances on his behalf.
On Saturday, Romney stood in a cavernous Art Deco train station in the heart of the industrial Midwest — the Union Terminal in Cincinnati — and told a screaming, cheering crowd that the country is stronger when it hangs together. His voice was hoarse as he delivered his remarks, though he was clearly buoyed by the energy of the crowd.
"United, America built the strongest economy in the history of the earth. United we put Neil Armstrong on the moon," Romney said. "United we face down unspeakable darkness."
He mentioned the hardships facing families who are struggling with rising prices for food and gas and having trouble finding well-paying jobs, saying: "We recognize what a great responsibility you've given us. How much you expect from us to be able to get back the White House and get America back on track."
He pointed to Obama's own convention speech.
"He famously said he was going to slow the rise of the oceans and he was going to heal the planet," Romney said. "Our promise to you is this: We're going to help the American people and help the families of America.
Romney spoke on the first day of college football season, and as he began his speech, he said: "Let me tell you, if you have a coach that is zero and 23 million, you say it's time to get a new coach."
He referred to the 23 million Americans who are unemployed, and said: "It's time for America to see a winning season again, and we're going to bring it to them."
Romney appeared later in the day in Jacksonville, Fla., where he appealed to the thousands of military voters who live in the area. "The world is not a safer place right now, not with Iran trying to become nuclear, dangers throughout the world," Romney said.
Romney campaigned with Ryan, his running mate, in Jacksonville. The vice presidential nominee earlier in the day had attended the Ohio State University game in Columbus against his alma mater, Miami University of Ohio.
A local TV reporter asked Romney if he had counseled his No. 2 on how not to lose votes of Ohio State fans by rooting for the other team on their home turf.
"There are great football rivalries associated with my campaign, not just with Miami of Ohio candidate Paul Ryan but also a guy from Michigan. I'm surprised you let me over the border this morning," Romney said.
A Romney spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about whether the Republican presidential nominee planned to watch any of the day's games, follow the score of any particular matchup or had a team that he backs, though spokesman Kevin Madden said staffers had been talking to him about the day's match-ups.
Romney has said he is a Boston Red Sox baseball fan and that he supports the New England Patriots professional football team. He attended Stanford and Brigham Young University, both of which have football teams. He was raised in Michigan, where the University of Michigan and Michigan State are football rivals.
Campaigning earlier this year in New Hampshire, a voter asked him which of his home state teams he was backing during ongoing college football season.
"I'm for both Michigan and Michigan State these days," Romney responded.
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