One day after sweeping three primaries, Mitt Romney says he hopes the Republican nomination will be "wrapped up as soon as possible," but stopped short of calling for his opponents to drop out.
Rather, he focused his criticism squarely on President Obama, previewing the likely general election matchup and framing Obama as the "hide and seek" candidate.
"He wants us to re-elect him so we can find out what he will actually do," Romney said today in Washington, DC, "With all the challenges the nation faces, this is not the time for President Obama's hide and seek campaign."
Romney spoke from the same stage that President Obama spoke at just yesterday in front of the Newspaper Association of America, and told the same crowd who listened to Obama yesterday that the president's speech included multiple "distortions" and "rhetorical excesses."
"I looked at what the president said and there were so many things I found to be distortions and inaccuracies, it's hard to give a full list," Romney said. "The idea of this kind of rhetorical excess I don't think serves us terribly well in a process like this and hope that in the future we can talk about the real issues, the real differences between us, the failures in the last three years."
Romney defended Congressman Paul Ryan, whose budget plan President Obama dismissed yesterday as "nothing more than a Trojan Horse."
"Congressman Paul Ryan - who, unlike this President, has had the courage to offer serious solutions to the problems we face," Romney said today.
"President Obama came here yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making - and criticized policies no one is proposing," Mr. Romney continued. "It's one of his favorite strategies - setting up straw men to distract from his record."
Romney said that President Obama will have a "hard time defending" his record in office in a general election.
"I don't think this has been a great presidency," Romney said, "as you look at the pieces of legislation he enacted, they did not get the economy working again."
Romney said on the economy the president has presented a "grand total of zero" ideas and will try a series of "election-year conversions," to win another term in office.
"In the middle of the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression, the president purports to have experienced a series of election-year conversions," Romney said then ticking through a list.
"As president, he has repeatedly called for tax increases on businesses. Now, as candidate Obama, he decides that a lower corporate tax rate would be better. As president, he's added regulations at a staggering rate. Now, as candidate Obama, he says he wants to find ways to reduce them. As president, he delayed the development of our oil and coal and natural gas. Now, as candidate Obama, he says he favors an energy policy that adopts an all-of-the-above approach."
Following the lead Sen. John McCain, R-AZ., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL., who have called on the others in the Republican nomination to drop out, Romney was asked if he would now call on his Republican opponents to drop out as well.
"No, I haven't, but now that you bring it up," Romney joked to laughter in the room.
Then, he shifted towards more diplomatic language when speaking about his competitors for the Republican nomination, but emphasized that his hope would be to have this nomination race wrapped up soon.
"Actually, I think people are free to make their own decision and I respect them to do so," Romney said, "I hope we are able to resolve our nomination process as soon as possible. Of course because I'd like to focus our time and attention on those key battleground states."
Romney will spend the rest of the day today and tomorrow in Pennsylvania, looking ahead to the next set of primaries April 24.