Americans go to the polls Tuesday with a choice between two very different visions for the next four years. Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign, the chief issue for Americans has been the economy, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee and supposed champion of business, is tasked with convincing voters that his economic plan will lower the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate.
Now, as the last hours before Election Day tick down, Romney has made his final plea to voters during an exhausting three-day tour of the six swing states that probably will decide the election. While Romney has positioned himself as being starkly dissimilar from the president on social issues -- from reproductive rights to marriage equality -- those issues were largely absent in the final days of his campaign, during which Romney spent what time he had left making the case for his avowed economic expertise.
On Friday, Romney gave a speech in the battleground state of Wisconsin, where, according to his campaign, he made his “closing arguments for his candidacy for president of the United States.”
Below are some excerpts from Romney’s final speech, along with some of the major talking points from the rally:
[Mitt Romney, Nov. 2, West Allis, Wis.]
The closing hours of a campaign have a dynamic of their own. Many voters have known for some time who they will vote for. Others are just now putting aside the demands of daily life and considering how their vote will affect their life, the lives of their children and the course of the country we love. We ask you to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and the ads. Look to the record, the accomplishments and failures, and the judgment. Words are cheap. A record is real and earned with effort. Change cannot be measured in speeches; it is measured in achievements.
Four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short. The question of this election comes down to this: Do you want more of the same or do you want real change? President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it.
[On the Economy]
I built a business, and turned around another. I helped put an Olympics back on track. And with a Democratic legislature, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus, from job losses to job growth, and from higher taxes to higher take-home pay. This is why I am running for president. I know how to change the course the nation is on, how to get us to a balanced budget and how to build jobs and rising take-home pay. Accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about -- it is something I have done. And it is what will do when I am president of the United States.
[On Blaming Bush]
When I am elected, the economy and American jobs will still be stagnant. I won’t waste any time complaining about my predecessor. I won’t spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation unrelated to economic growth. From Day One, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work. You can choose your future. You know what you need to know. You can stay on the path of the last four years, or you can choose real change.
You know that if the president is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress. He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy. The president was right when he said he can’t change Washington from the inside. In this case, you can take him at his word. When I am elected, I will work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress. I will meet regularly with their leaders. I will endeavor to find those good men and women on both sides of the aisle that care more about the country than about the politics. Together, we will put the nation on track to a balanced budget, to reform our tax code, and to finally reaffirm our commitment to financial responsibility.
[On Energy Policy]
You know that if the president is re-elected, he will continue his war on coal and oil and natural gas. He will send billions more dollars to his favorite solar and wind companies. And all of this will guarantee higher energy prices at the pump and fewer jobs. Today, gas costs twice what it did when President Obama was elected. When I am elected, we will change course on energy. I know just how much energy means to middle-class families. We can help hold down prices at the pump and grow new energy jobs and manufacturing jobs.
[On American Exceptionalism]
I do not believe this is a moment when our big dreams will be satisfied with a small agenda. I will lead America to a better place, where confidence in the future is assured, not questioned. This is not a time to settle! We are four days away from a fresh start. 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 solid plans and proven results. And an unshakeable faith in the American spirit.
If there is anyone worried the last four years are the best we can do, if there is anyone who fears that the American dream is fading away, if there is anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are things of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message: With the right leadership, America will come roaring back. We are Americans. We can do anything. The only thing that stands between us and some of the best years we have known is lack of leadership. And that’s why we have elections. This Tuesday is a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do ... to put the past four years behind us and start building a new future.
You saw the differences when President Obama and I were side-by-side in our debates. He says it has to be this way. I say it can’t stay this way. He’s offering excuses, I’ve got a plan. He’s hoping we’ll settle. I can’t wait for us to get started. Americans don’t settle. We build, we aspire, we listen to that voice inside that says, “We can do better.” A better job; a better life for our kids; a bigger, better country. That better life is out there, waiting for us. Our destiny is in your hands.