BROOMALL, Pa. - Rick Santorum who?
Mitt Romney stormed into the former senator's home state of Pennsylvania today to the welcome of an enthusiastic crowd of more than 500 people. He spoke for more than 20 minutes about what he called failures of the Obama administration in handling the economy, repeating an almost identical message to one he delivered in the state nearly a year ago.
"I think he's so out of touch with the American people that he doesn't see how many people are struggling because of his policies," said Romney, who spoke on the floor of a spiral staircase manufacturer.
"We want dreams and dreamers to come to this country. But instead, with this president, regulation upon regulation, bureaucrat upon bureaucrat, tax upon tax. He's crushing the dreams, he's crushing the dreamers, he's crushing the middle class," said Romney. "It's time to bring back economic strength in the middle class by encouraging the dreamers, encouraging the dreams."
While Romney has fundraised in Pennsylvania over the past year, he has not held a public campaign event in the state since June 30, 2011, weeks after he officially launched his presidential campaign. Then, speaking outside an abandoned factory in Allentown, Pa., the failure of which he blamed on the president's economic plan, Romney took questions from the media in what would be one of the first campaign events of the primary season.
Then, Romney was asked by a reporter if he believed he could win Pennsylvania, to which he responded, "Can I win Pennsylvania? Pennsylvanians want good jobs and they want a president that will focus on getting Pennsylvania back to work.
"If I'm president, I'll do just that," he said. "My intent is to use a career of work in the private sector and my understanding of how jobs come and go to try and help America become the most attractive place in the world for investors, innovators, for creators, for laborers," said Romney. "I want America to go back to work."
Romney's message today was nearly identical, with the candidate touting his economic resume and bashing the president's.
Despite a speech focused entirely on President Obama, Romney did still make a plea for votes in Pennsylvania's primary, which isn't for another few weeks.
Romney's campaign has organizational weight in the state, a campaign headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., and at least four paid staffers in the state, with more coming in later this week.
"On April 24, I need you to take the next step, the next step in taking back America and restoring opportunity and freedom," he said, "and putting people back to work, and strengthening our middle-class, growing America, allowing us to maintain a strong military - second to none in the world - keeping America the shining light on a hill. And I will do that, with your help. Let's get out and vote. Let's get the job done. Thanks, you guys!"
Romney will continue campaigning in Pennsylvania on Thursday.