Springfield, Virginia (CNN) – Mitt Romney on Thursday blamed President Barack Obama for revised GDP numbers that revealed the economy grew more slowly in the second quarter than originally thought.
"This is a real challenge for us," Romney told a group of veterans at a rally in Springfield, Virginia. "And this is not just one quarter. This has been going on now for years."
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GDP or gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's economic health, grew at an annual rate of 1.3% from April to June, the Commerce Department said Thursday, slower than the 1.7% rate the government last reported in August.
The downward revision came as a surprise to economists who were largely expecting the figure to remain unchanged. It also marked slower growth than in the first three months of the year, when GDP accelerated at a 2% annual rate.
Romney on Thursday warned that a weak economy showed weakness on a military front, as well. The Republican presidential nominee, who's recently sought to bolster his foreign policy credentials, pointed to two other countries as prime examples for the need to maintain a healthy economy.
"Russia tried for a while, the old Soviet Union, tried for a while to maintain a grade A, if you will, military. But they had a Grade B economy and they couldn't keep up," Romney said. "They finally had to – well they collapsed."
Adding that the economies in both Russia and China are growing at several times the pace of the U.S. economy, Romney faulted the president for using the "same series of policies" over the last four years that "have not worked."
"I know what it takes to get us working. He's put us on a road to Europe," Romney said. "Europe doesn't work in Europe, all right? I want to get us back to being America."
Alan Krueger, the chairman of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a post on the White House's website that the downward revision in GDP was due, in part, to the Midwest drought, the effects of which he said the Obama administration "continues to take all available steps to mitigate."
Obama's campaign, meanwhile, responded to Romney's remarks Thursday, saying his proposal to overhaul Medicare would have negative effects on veterans.
"His plan could result in deep cuts to the VA and he has suggested privatizing veterans' health care. And because of his refusal to lead his party and demand that Congressional Republicans, including his running mate, drop their opposition to asking for a penny more from millionaires and billionaires, he's stood in the way of preventing devastating automatic defense cuts," campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.
Romney on Thursday also hit on the defense cuts scheduled to take place at the beginning of 2013, if Congress fails to come up with a new budget plan by the end of the year. The automatic spending decrease would especially pound Virginia's economy, home to several military bases.
Describing the cuts, known as sequestration, as a "gun-to-your-head" approach originally proposed by the White House and passed by Congress, Romney said the impact on Virginia would be "devastating."
He also cautioned the world was too "dangerous" to chip away at U.S. military power and surveyed what he views as the greatest threats to security.
"Look around the world. Look at North Korea. They continue to develop nuclear capability on their own part and export it to others. Syria, 20 or 30 thousand people killed in Syria. Iran, closer and closer to having nuclear capabilities. Egypt, now with a Muslim Brotherhood president. Pakistan, highly, um, tumultuous. Afghanistan, our men and women still in Afghanistan," Romney said.
He continued: "The idea of cutting our military commitment by a trillion dollars over this decade is unthinkable and devastating."
Both Romney and Obama are hitting the trail in the crucial battleground of Virginia on Thursday. A recent CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the latest three polls of likely voters in the state, shows the president ahead of Romney, 50% to 44%, in the Old Dominion.
Obama won Virginia in 2008, carrying the state for Democrats for the first time since 1964.
– CNN's Ashley Killough, Rachel Streitfeld and CNNMoney's Annalyn Censky contributed to this report.