Romney promises 'real change' to Obama's 'status quo'

Mitt Romney pledges big change that, he says, will restore certainty for the middle class

Republican nominee Mitt Romney has called for "real change" against President Barack Obama's "status quo", on the final stretch of an election race that is too close to call.

Mr Romney dismissed the Democratic incumbent as a shadow of his former self, in an economic speech in the key battleground state of Iowa.

On Friday, new figures showed US gross domestic product grew by 2% in the third quarter, exceeding expectations.

The US goes to the polls on 6 November.

In a speech seeking to outline his core economic argument, Mr Romney said: "This election is a choice. A choice between the status quo, going forward with the same policies of the last four years, or instead choosing real change. Change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past."

The former Massachusetts governor also accused Mr Obama of distracting the nation's "attention from the biggest issues to the smallest".

Climate 'crucial'

Mr Obama was taking a break from the campaign trail on Friday, after an intense 48-hour eight-state tour earlier in the week.

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He spent the day in Washington, recording interviews and meeting fellow Democrats.

In one interview with radio host Michael Smerconish, Mr Obama stressed he would work with Congress to pass a budget deal to reduce the country's deficit and debt.

"I'll go to Capitol Hill, I'll wash John Boehner's car, I'll walk Mitch McConnell's dog," Mr Obama said, referring to the Republican House Speaker and Senate minority leader respectively. "I'll do whatever is required to get this done."

In a later interview with MTV, Mr Obama emphasised the importance of voting for young adults, saying "there's no excuse" not to and attacked Mr Romney on climate change, calling it a "critical issue" for MTV viewers.

"[Romney] says he believes in climate change... but he says he's not sure man-made causes are the reason," Mr Obama said. "I believe scientists, who say we're putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it's heating the planet and it's going to have a severe effect."

Disputing the data

Mr Romney's comments in Iowa come as the Department of Commerce figures showed the US economy grew at an annualised rate of 2% in the three months to September.

The Obama campaign said the data showed the economy was moving in the right direction.

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It wasn't exactly the 'major' economic speech trailed by the campaign, but Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's speech in Iowa was important”

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"While we have more work to do, today's GDP growth report, showing the 13th straight quarter of growth, is more evidence that our economy continues to come back from the worst recession since the Great Depression under President Obama's leadership," it said in a statement.

Democrats also pointed out that Mr Romney spoke in Iowa outside Kinzler Construction Services, which benefited from more than $650,000 (£403,000) in stimulus funding from the 2009 law Mr Obama signed into law - the same stimulus the Republican nominee often criticises.

At a campaign stop, Mr Romney broadly attacked Mr Obama's record. "Despite all that he inherited, President Obama did not repair our economy, he did not save Medicare and Social Security, he did not tame the spending and borrowing, he did not reach across the aisle to bring us together."

An average of national opinion polls released on Friday show Mr Romney opening a modest lead of 0.9% over Mr Obama. Mr Obama is leading slightly in the key election states of Ohio and New Hampshire, but trailing slightly in Virginia and Florida.

In other news on Friday:

  • Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu retreated from his comments suggesting that former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Mr Obama because both men were black
  • Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the Republicans' top donor, has given $10m (£6.2m) to a group supporting Mr Romney
  • The presidential campaigns' combined fundraising total has crossed the $2bn mark, on track to become the most expensive race in history.
  • Mr Romney and Vice-president Joe Biden both cancelled campaign appearances on Sunday because of the threat to the US east coast from Hurricane Sandy.

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