DENVER - Fresh off a strong debate performance last night, Mitt Romney made a surprise appearance before a group of conservatives this morning, remarking that the debate was a "great opportunity" to showcase the contrast between himself and President Obama.
"Last night I thought was a great opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country," said Romney. "And I think it was helpful to be able to describe those visions."
"I saw the president's vision as trickle-down government and I don't think that's what America believes in," said Romney, a line he said during the debate. "I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom. We have two very different courses for America- trickle-down government or prosperity through freedom. And trickle-down government that the president proposes is one where he will raise taxes on small business which will kill jobs. I instead want to keep taxes down on small business so we can create jobs."
Romney was introduced by his four sons who had been slated to speak at the CPAC conference this morning, his eldest Tagg Romney telling the unsuspecting audience that they had a "fill-in" for their missing fifth brother, Ben, who is doing his medical residency and couldn't attend.
It was then that Romney emerged on stage, surprising the crowd.
"When I heard my boys were going to be here, I couldn't resist," Romney said to thunderous applause.
Meanwhile, across town, President Obama was holding a rally of his own, during which he poked fun at the GOP nominee as he tried to turn the page on his less-than-stellar debate performance.
"We also had our first debate last night," said Obama. "When I got out on the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney but it couldn't have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year promising $5 trillion in tax cuts to favor the wealthy."
Romney flies now to the battleground state of Virginia, where he will link up with his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan for an evening rally, while Obama heads to Wisconsin.