AVON LAKE — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday told an exuberant crowd packed into the Avon Lake High School gym that his policies will restore the American economy.
He said his Democratic rival, President Barack Obama, hasn’t put forth a clear agenda for what he would do if he won a second term in The White House.
“The president hasn’t been able to lay something out other than to say we’re going to stay the course and continuing down the same road,” Romney told the crowd during the second of the two speeches he gave at the high school Monday. “He calls it going forward. I call it forewarned.”
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The two men are locked in a tight battle for a handful of key swing states with a week left before Election Day. Avon Lake has been won by the Republican presidential candidate the last three presidential elections.
“We face enormous challenges and as a result this is a big election about big things. …” Romney said. “We have a president today who has a different view about where America is. His view is that we’re on the right track; that there’s no need for major change. My view is that this track is the wrong course for America; that this is a turning point for America and as a result those people in this country who want real change from day one are going to vote for Paul Ryan and myself.”
The Obama campaign immediately attacked Romney’s appearance, calling his claims to support the auto industry part of a “campaign of deception” in a news release.
The gym was packed with about 2,500 people, but before delivering his 20-minute speech in the larger venue, Romney spoke to a smaller crowd who ended up in an overflow area, according to his campaign. The speeches were virtually identical, a campaign worker said.
Romney, whom Democrats have criticized for a lack of specificity in his proposals, said he had a five-point plan to create 12 million new jobs.
He said he would expand oil and natural gas production, bolster trade with Latin America, increase training programs for workers, balance the federal budget and champion small business.
“All of this is going to happen because we’re going to do something that’s been spoken about in campaign after campaign but not done,” Romney said. “And that is, I’m going to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats. I’m going to find common ground.”
The former Massachusetts governor pointed out that a large majority of the state legislators he worked with while leading his state were Democrats, which meant he had to find ways to compromise to get things accomplished.
“It is high time for us to put the interests of the American people above the interests of politics,” Romney said.
Romney also said he intends to protect Medicare, tackle trade issues with China and work to cut taxes. He said the business tax rate of 35 percent is too high and prevents businesses from growing. He said he would cut that rate to 25 percent.
He said he would reduce taxes for individuals and also talked about closing loopholes.
Romney also promised to address the national deficit, which has been a political flashpoint between Republicans and Democrats in recent years. He said it isn’t fair to pass the bill on to a younger generation.
“In my view it’s not just bad economics, but it’s immoral for us to keep spending what we don’t have,” he said.
Romney wasn’t the first speaker the crowd heard Monday. Those praising Romney included Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, former Cleveland Browns player Gary Baxter, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth.
Renacci, who is locked in a re-election battle with U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, said he and many of his fellow Republicans who were elected in 2010 for a reason and Romney should join them.
“Two years ago, you sent me to Washington, you sent a number of people to Washington, because you didn’t like the way things were going,” Renacci said.
Portman, who helped prep Romney for the three presidential debates, urged the crowd to “commit to Mitt” by voting early, volunteering and pushing family and friends to support his fellow Republican.
“Folks, we’re in the fourth quarter, the score is tied, we’re in the red zone, we’ve got the momentum on our side,” Portman said.
Romney also asked those attending to donate to the American Red Cross or another relief organization to support those impacted by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
The crowd had to trek through the cold wind and rain from the outlying edge of the storm to get inside the high school.
Back on politics a moment later, Romney summed up the conventional wisdom of those watching the election — that Ohio is the critical state to him winning next month.
“My guess is that if Ohio votes me in as president, I’ll be the next president of the United States,” he said.
A week from now the nation will know if Romney guessed right.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.