Metairie, Louisiana (CNN) - Mitt Romney used the second anniversary of the signing of President Obama's health care reform plan to forge ahead with his strategy of pointedly attacking the White House instead of his Republican rivals.
At his first of two campaign events in Louisiana before Saturday's primary here, Romney methodically picked apart "Obamacare," blaming the president for stifling economic growth with a law that he said most people want to repeal.
- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker
- Follow Peter Hamby on Twitter: @PeterHambyCNN
"You'll note the White House is not celebrating Obamacare today," Romney told a small audience inside a New Orleans area mall, where teenagers were filing past to catch a morning screening of "The Hunger Games."
"They don't have any big ceremony going on," he said. "The president is not giving speeches on Obamacare and that's for a reason. Most Americans want to get rid of it, and we're among those Americans, I want to get rid of it too."
Americans are divided on the health care law, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last week that showed 47% of Americans approve of the legislation while 45% disapprove. But also, a majority (53%) say the bill should be expanded or left as is, with 38% saying it should be repealed.
Romney, surrounded by large glossy signs bearing the message "Repeal and Replace Obamacare," said he is "the only person in this race who's actually laid out what I would replace it with."
Romney said he will sign an executive order on the first day of his administration giving states the ability to opt out of the Obama health care law.
He said he would then promote a lower-cost health care marketplace by reducing taxes on the cost of insurance plans, enabling consumers to purchase care across the state lines and capping damages in malpractice lawsuits.
Under his plan, he said, Medicaid payments would be block-granted to states and local governments would be allowed to experiment with their coverage plans for low-income and uninsured Americans.
"I believe in individuals being able to make their own choices," he said. "And so as I look at this administration I see Obamacare as one more example of a president pursuing his attack on economic and personal liberty."
Health care has been a sensitive matter for Romney throughout his 2012 bid because he signed a plan similar to Obama's when he was governor of Massachusetts and called his state plan a "model for the nation."
Both the Romney plan in Massachusetts and the Obama plan mandate that consumers purchase health insurance, though Romney now claims that such a mandate is unworkable on the federal level.
He made no mention of the Massachusetts law in his remarks.
That did not stop the Obama campaign from sharply criticizing Romney's speech on Friday.
"Now that he is running for President, Mitt Romney apparently no longer believes in these things, and instead advocates letting insurance companies go back to the days of dropping Americans' coverage when they get sick, discriminating against those with preexisting conditions, and making women pay more for their health care," said Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the campaign.
Romney is not competing as aggressively in Louisiana as he did in neighboring Mississippi just over a week ago and is making only three appearances in the state, one in Metairie along with an event and a fundraiser in Shreveport.
He drew eye-rolls during his campaigns in Mississippi and Alabama by repeatedly expressing love for grits and saying "y'all" in front of audiences, something he avoided on Friday.
Speaking about the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law, Romney pointed out that it "affects everybody on, y'all, you all, on a direct basis" – a verbal slip that drew laughs.
"You all," he clarified. "I'm not trying to pretend I am from Louisiana."