Dubuque, Iowa (CNN) - On Monday, Mitt Romney opened what appears to be a new line of attack against President Barack Obama, painting a gloomy picture for the U.S. if the president is re-elected.
During opening remarks at a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa, the Republican presidential candidate invoked the pain and panic felt by Americans during a historic period of economic calamity.
"When I was a boy, we used to turn to our parents, as a generation, and ask them how they did during the Great Depression," Romney told the crowd. "My guess is, 20, 25 years from now …your kids are going to turn to you and say, 'How did you make it through the Obama Great Recession?' "
"How you answer is going to depend, in part, on what happens about a year from now," Romney said.
Romney warned of high unemployment, low housing values, declining middle-class median incomes and higher costs for gas, food and health care in a second Obama term.
Romney even mentioned the economic situation currently roiling Europe.
"If President Obama is re-elected, you can expect more trillion-dollar deficits and perhaps a very significant risk that America will face the kind of fiscal crisis… that you're seeing in Europe, in Greece and Italy and Spain and so forth," Romney said. "The difference of course would be that there's no one big enough to bail out the United States of America."
Romney continued: "Now the alternative of course is you'd turn on your TV, about a year from now, and instead of seeing the Obama camp celebrating, you'll see something on the TV that says, 'Mitt is it.' "
The candidate painted an optimistic picture for the nation under a Romney administration, saying he would make the U.S. more attractive for entrepreneurs and job growth and pare down the size of government.
Romney did not mention parts of his record as governor that critics have seized on. For example, Democrats - and even fellow Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry - note that Massachusetts ranked 47th in the nation in job creation during Romney's term.
While Romney received a warm reception from those Iowans in attendance, he was the subject of a scathing newspaper opinion piece from a trio of Iowa conservatives.
In the weekend column in the Des Moines Register, a headline blared: "Conservative Iowans owe it to nation to reject Mitt."
The writers reasoned that Romney's record exposes "his many turn arounds," and noted "American conservatives who remain unenthused, demoralized and depressed about the prospect of a Republican nominee Mitt Romney and even President Romney."
The group has launched a Web site called NotMittRomney.com.
Yet despite those claims, Romney remains strong in polls for Iowa and nationally. The latest, from USA Today/Gallup, shows Romney tied with Herman Cain for support among Republican voters. A recent CNN/Time/ORC poll for Iowa showed Romney essentially tied with Cain, 24% to 21%.
–Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter @ShanTravisCNN