DAVENPORT, Iowa — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, keying on a speech President Barack Obama made in Davenport four years ago this week, said Tuesday the president abandoned his campaign promises to unite the country and “demonizes our fellow Americans,” and he cast the election as one to save the vision of the country.
Romney, who kicked off a bus tour through the state with a speech to a packed Gold Room in the Hotel Blackhawk, picked up on his complaint that the president had created an “entitlement society,” pledging instead to create one of opportunity that would produce pioneers and inventors. He called it “a society that inspires its citizens to build and create, lifting the rest of us, creating prosperity for all.”
Romney seized on a speech Obama gave across the street at the Davenport RiverCenter, in December, 2007 in which he said “now is our time.”
“Mister President,” Romney said, “you had your moment. We’ve seen the results and now, Mister President, now is our time.”
He added, “Once, Barack Obama appealed to our better angels. Now, he demonizes our fellow Americans.”
Romney steered clear of addressing his Republican rivals, though earlier in the day in New Hampshire, he accused Newt Gingrich of switching positions on the Massachusetts health care plan Romney signed into law.
Instead, it was Obama who was his focus.
“This election is about more than just replacing a president,” Romney said. “It’s about saving the vision of America.”
Campaign aides said 500 people showed up for the speech, and the hotel’s Gold Room was packed, as the crowd overflowed into the hall.
Romney also spent a lot of time after his remarks shaking hands and posing for pictures.
Deborah Soodhalter of Bettendorf said this would be her first caucus. She said she had voted for Obama four years ago, but wouldn’t do so again.
Soodhalter said she was undecided but liked Romney’s remarks. “I feel we need to end Obamacare and do something about regulations put on business,” she said.
Democrats, who have been dogging Romney’s every step in Iowa, said earlier in the day that Romney’s policies would hurt people of average means.
Skip McGill, president of United Steelworkers Local 105, said on a conference call that Romney opposed duties the Obama administration imposed on China for alleged tire dumping into the U.S. “He doesn’t have a good record for working people, working families,” McGill said.
Romney’s bus tour will take him through eastern Iowa today, with stops in Muscatine, Clinton and North Liberty. On Thursday, he’ll travel through northern Iowa, finishing up Friday in Des Moines.
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