By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Promising to work with "good Democrats," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called Friday for "bold changes" to help revive the economy as he began to outline a closing economic argument for voters.
Romney did not unveil specific plans in an economic address in Iowa, but heaped criticism on President Barack Obama for trying to "distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest — from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false."
"This is not the time to double down on the trickle-down government policies that have failed us," Romney told several hundred supporters gathered outside an Ames construction company. "It is time for new, bold changes that measure up to the moment that can bring America's families the certainty that the future will be better than the past."
Romney argued that Obama has no proposals to meet "the challenges of the times." He dismissed the president's signature legislative achievement, a health care law, as "his vaunted Obamacare" and says he would instead focus on saving Medicare and Social Security.
Romney delivered the speech on the same day the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy expanded at a slightly faster 2 percent annual rate from July through September.
Before the speech, Romney suggested that economic pickup was "discouraging" and insufficient to create enough jobs and improve take-home pay. He argued he would do better.
"Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take-home pay," he said.
Romney is focusing on the public's economic concerns heading into the final days of the campaign as polls suggest Americans trust him more than Obama to handle the issue.
But the speech did not answer lingering questions about how specifically he would pay for his tax plan or replace the president's health care law.
Romney repeated many of his standard campaign themes, including his signature refrain that America can't afford another four years like the last four years, and criticized the idea of new economic stimulus spending.
"It will not stimulate the private sector any better than did the stimulus of four years ago," Romney says.
Romney spoke outside Kinzler Construction Services, which received several hundred thousand dollars in stimulus funding from the package Obama signed into law shortly after taking office in 2009. Federal data shows the company accepted nearly $650,000 from the Department of Energy and another $39,000 as a subcontractor to help renovate a federal building.
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