US economy key to White House job

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Worthington, Ohio 25 October 2012 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mitt Romney must project a presidential image in the last week of campaigning

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

His demeanour is serious and sober, but the strategy is almost schoolboy cheek. Remember 2008 - hope and change? Mitt Romney says he is now the candidate of change, big change, while President Barack Obama stands for the status quo.

Some people will vote for him because he promises a new vision. Like the man in the "coal=jobs" baseball cap and bright red Romney-Ryan T-shirt. He was choked with emotion.

We spoke as he was making his way out of a rally for Mr Romney in the state of Ohio, a bright-eyed toddler in one arm, a slightly older child holding his free hand.

"It's devastating to us," he says. "Without a change in the United States, small businesses over here, people working every day to feed their families." His voice breaks and he is close to tears.

"Things are really bad, very bad here. We need a change now, and Mitt Romney is the man to do it. We cannot afford four more years of this."

Given his cap, I suspect he is a miner or construction worker. I couldn't be more wrong. He owned a hairdressing salon and had to lay off 22 stylists.

The Romney campaign will be hoping there are millions as distressed and as passionate as him.

But Friday's better-than-expected (GDP) figures won't help Mr Romney's campaign much - although they call it "discouraging news".

Two percent is not spectacular, but it is going in the right direction. But most people will vote on how they feel the economy is, not what some statistics point towards.

By now, people know what they think of the state of the economy. It is what - or who - could make it better. That is the question.

It is why, in these final days of campaigning, Mr Romney is attempting to make a much more positive case.

I doubt there will be much new in today's "major" economic speech - indeed it would be slightly incoherent if he did produce new ideas at this stage.

But his message is that he is a man with a plan, ready to take on the big job. One of his strategists told me he is not by nature a campaigner, but now as the big day grows closer he is much more focused on thinking about how he would do the job.

This is spin, of course, as are reports of the work he is doing with a team preparing for power (1 min 40 sec in).

But expect to hear Mr Romney sounding much more presidential in the final full week of campaigning.