As he kicked off a five-day bus tour across six battleground states, Romney cast President Obama as “detached and distant” from the struggling people he has met on factory floors, break rooms and diners across the country.
“Everywhere I go, I meet people who represent the best of America,” Romney said. “They’re hopeful, hardworking, determined and proud. But they’re also anxious, and they’re worried. They’re tired of being tired. And they’re tired of a detached and distant president who never seems to hear their voices.”
“I hear you,” he continued, “and I’ll make sure I continue to hear the people of America when I’m president of the United States if I get your support.”
After stepping off a newly branded campaign bus to his “Born Free” theme song with his wife, Ann, Romney delivered what amounted to a retooled stump speech. He said he would campaign until November with a simple message: “America’s greatest days are ahead.”
But Democrats pushed back on Romney’s vision. Obama’s reelection campaign issued a statement attacking what it called “Romney Economics.”
“On the campaign trail, Romney claims his experience as a corporate buyout specialist will bring positive economic results to the nation,” the statement said. “He’s making the same economic promises today as when he ran for governor. But as residents of these communities will quickly learn, Romney Economics actually resulted in slower job creation, more debt, bigger government and cuts to programs essential to the middle class. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.”
With the general election campaign intensifying and polls tightening nationally and in swing states, the former Massachusetts governor is trying to seize a moment that has Obama on the defensive.
More Americans are starting to tune in to the campaign, and Romney’s advisers hope his bus tour — which should draw substantial media attention in a handful of hard-fought battlegrounds Obama carried in 2008, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa — presents him in a favorable light.
“Governor Romney has an opportunity to campaign on urban areas a lot,” Romney strategist Russ Schriefer said. “This is an opportunity over the next five days to go to places that are a little bit off the beaten path and visit towns and cities where people are struggling in this Obama economy.”
Along the way, Romney will appear with high-profile surrogates, including a number of potential Republican vice presidential running mates — former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) — as well as his family.