Lehigh Acres, Florida (CNN) - Mitt Romney hit the reset button. In a day that could mark a turning point for his campaign, the GOP contender released his tax returns and returned to an investment strategy that has paid dividends in the past: spend more time attacking the President.
To hammer the point home, the former Massachusetts governor chose two compelling backdrops to deliver what his campaign described as a "pre-buttal" to the President's State of the Union address.
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Romney started his day at an empty warehouse where a drywall factory once prospered on the outskirts of Tampa.
"It breaks my heart to visit plants like this one," Romney told a small crowd gathered inside the shuttered plant.
Later in the day, he stood outside a foreclosed home in Southwest Florida, one of the nation's hardest-hit regions in the housing crisis.
"The right course for America is to have a President who understands our lending institutions and be creative and find ways to keep people who make their payments in their homes," Romney said outside the house.
Before Romney can rebuild the real estate market, he must prop up an underperforming campaign. Bogged down for weeks in a costly ground war with Newt Gingrich, Romney's advisors now regularly concede they may not win every state.
In a sign the campaign understands Gingrich could take the winner-take-all Florida primary, Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters inside the vacant warehouse the state is not what it considered a "must win" contest.
"No state is a must win," Fehnstrom said. "The nomination process is a long process," he added.
After releasing the former Governor's tax returns for 2010 and an estimated return for 2011, the Romney campaign indicated it has no plans to release additional tax records in the future.
"We think it satisfies the legitimate public interest," Ferhnstrom said of the release.
"Passing that kidney stone," as Republican strategist Mike Murphy put it, enables Romney to return to the economy, the issue that arguably best positions his candidacy against President Obama.
Standing outside that foreclosed home at Romney's event in Lehigh Acres, a nearby resident said he appreciated the focus on Florida's battered housing market.
"I'm really impressed somebody took time to come and do it," neighbor Robert Inch said of Romney's decision to visit the vacant home.
Inch has seen squatters take over several foreclosed homes in the community.
"They're coming right in and they just do what they want to do. Anything they want to do in them. It can be pretty bad, you know," Inch added.
Democrats are all too eager for the battle with Romney on both housing and manufacturing.
Critics of the former Massachusetts governor note he once argued the housing market should be allowed to bottom out.
In recent weeks, Gingrich joined Romney's Democratic adversaries in highlighting the factories that were closed during his days at the private investment firm Bain Capital.
Romney used that foreclosed property as a prop to unleash a slew of new attacks on Gingrich's advisory work on behalf of the mortgage giant, Freddie Mac. The GOP hopeful mocked Gingrich's now infamous description of his job as a "historian" for the lender.
"Let me tell you how that works. He gets paid one-point-six million dollars. He says he was an historian. I am waiting to see the history he wrote for Freddie Mac," Romney said.
Romney also offered a new twist on his criticism that Gingrich was actually a lobbyist all those years after he left Congress, a charge the former Speaker denies.
"We can't have influence peddlers leading our party," Romney added.
After the speech, other nearby residents complained the attacks left little time for specifics on how Romney would turnaround the housing market.
"What's the plan? Other than Obama, what's the plan," asked Fort Myers resident Rafael Barros.