CINCINNATI, Ohio - Kicking off a full day of campaigning across the crucial Buckeye State, Mitt Romney promised "big change" if voters push him to victory in November.
"This is a critical time for our country, and the choice of paths we choose will have an enormous impact," Romney began, "We have huge challenges: the debts I mentioned, the fact that our schools are under-performing, the fact that college kids getting out of school this year can't find jobs in half the cases, or jobs that are at college level. The fact that they have thousands and thousands of dollars in debt that's on their back they're going to have to be paying for."
"These challenges are big challenges," he said. "This election is therefore a big choice, and America wants to see big changes, and we're going to bring big changes to get America strong again."
Romney, who spoke to a crowd of 3,000, introduced his "big change" theme here today, using the phrase a dozen times.
"I mean do you want real, big change in this country?" Romney asked the audience, who responded at once with a loud "Yeah!" "Well you're going to get it on November 6, you're going to make it happen, we're going to get America on track again!"
Romney, who is trailing Obama in Ohio 49-44 according to a recent Time poll, tailored his speech to the voters here, who he urged to vote early.
"The Obama campaign doesn't have a plan, the Obama campaign is slipping because he's talking about smaller and smaller things despite the fact that America has such huge challenges and that this is such an opportunity for America, and that's why on Nov. 6 I'm counting on Ohio to vote for big change," Romney said.
"We need to make sure Ohio is able to send a message loud and clear: We want real change. We want big change," he said.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement after Romney's event that Romney's big change wasn't such a change after all writing, "Here's the 'big change' Mitt Romney is offering: going back to the same failed policies that caused the economic crisis.
"They know that we won't be able to move forward with a president who is beholden to the far right wing, " wrote Smith. "Unlike Mitt Romney, President Obama has a concrete and specific second-term plan to continue restoring economic security to the middle class and to avoid returning to the same policies that crashed the economy, a plan that will move us forward, not back."
Today was the first time voters have heard Romney talk about this "big change" campaign. Romney has previously made mention of Obama's 2008 campaign slogan of "Hope and Change" on the stump.
During a campaign stop in Ohio in June, Romney said that the "last time [Obama] ran his campaign his message was hope and change. Now with the economy doing what it's doing, he's hoping to change the subject to something else."
And during his convention speech in August, Romney said that while "hope and change had a powerful appeal" four years ago, today the excitement is gone.
Romney didn't leave his first of three stops in Ohio today without taking a swipe at Vice President Joe Biden, who the other day misstated what state he was in during a rally in Ohio.
"What a Cincinnati welcome," Romney cheered. "Thank you so much. Great to be with you today. It's good to be here in Ohio or as Joe Biden would say - here in Iowa."