WEST ALLIS, Wisc. - With four days to go before Election Day, Mitt Romney laid out a closing message here in the Badger State, declaring that voters know what they need to know by now, that the choice is up to them and that this is "not the time to settle."
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"It's within the power of the American people to choose their own future. We know what we need to know. You can stay on the path of the last four years, or you can choose real change," said Romney, making his first trip back to Wisconsin since August, a state that polls show him in a tight race with President Obama.
"This is not a time for America to settle! We're four days away from a fresh start," he said. "Four days away from the first day of a new beginning. My conviction that better days are ahead is not based on promises and hollow rhetoric but on solid plans and proven results."
Romney spoke broadly of his own plans if elected, promising not to "complain about his predecessor" and pledging to reach across the aisle, suggesting that President Obama has alienated members of Congress saying, "He's ignored them, he's attacked them, he's blamed them."
"Now I know when I am elected, the economy and the American job market will still be stagnant," Romney said, interrupted frequently during his remarks here by a raucous crowd of thousands. "But I won't waste any time complaining about my predecessor. I won't spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation that's unrelated to economic growth. From day one, I'll go to work to help Americans get back to work."
Dinging the president on today's job's numbers, which showed a slight uptick in the unemployment rate and the addition of 171,000 jobs, Romney painted Obama as a leader who has failed to keep his promises.
"He said he was going to cut the federal deficit in half, and then he doubled it," said Romney. "He said he was gonna lower the unemployment rate down to 5.2 percent right now. Today we learned it's actually 7.9 percent and that's 9 million jobs short of what he promised. Unemployment is higher today than when Barack Obama took office. Think of that. Unemployment today is higher than the day Barack Obama took office."
Shifting to the momentum his own campaign enjoyed following his strong debate performance - but was somewhat stymied by the halt in campaigning due to the devastation of superstorm Sandy - Romney looked back on his 16-month campaign.
"Now you and I have watched over these last few months as our campaign has gathered strength, the strength of a movement," he said. "It's not just the size of the crowds, it's the depth of our shared conviction, the readiness for new possibilities, the sense that the challenges are clear and our work will soon begin. It's made me strive even more to be worthy of the office, to campaign as I would govern, to speak for the aspirations of all Americans."
Romney, who made mention several times here that he would win the state on Tuesday, acknowledged that the "closing hours of a campaign have a dynamic all their own."
"A lot of voters have known for some time who they're going to vote for. But there are others that are just now putting aside the demands of daily life and considering how their vote will affect their own life, the lives of their children, and of course, the course of the country we love," said Romney. "And we asked them and you to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and the ads. Look to the record, to the accomplishments and failures, and the judgment. Words are cheap. A record is real and it's earned with effort. Real change is not measured in words; real change is measured in achievements."
"And four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he's fallen so very short," he said.
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney "laughably pledged that he would bring 'real change' if he's elected."
"We know that's not true: all Mitt Romney would do is bring back the failed policies of the past that crashed the economy and punished the middle class in the first place," wrote Smith. "And if we've learned one thing about Mitt Romney in the closing days of this campaign, it's that he can't be trusted to tell the truth or keep his word - he's been spreading falsehoods about Jeep and GM and misrepresenting his positions on everything from health care to foreign policy. That's why Americans should be very wary of his claims of bipartisanship. Throughout this campaign he has shown himself to be too weak to stand up to the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Here's the truth: Mitt Romney will say or do anything to win, but Americans just can't afford to let him take us backward."
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