Ames, Iowa (CNN) - Mitt Romney renewed his bid for independent voters Friday, pledging in a formal speech to unite a fractious Washington and deliver "big change" to reset the country's course.
"This election is a choice," Romney told more than a thousand voters on a windy Iowa afternoon, saying Americans faced "a choice between the status quo - going forward with the same policies of the last four years - or instead, choosing real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past."
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The speech, billed by aides as a major address on the economy, was largely a repeat of remarks Romney had given on the stump at rallies across Ohio a day earlier. The GOP presidential nominee did not outline new policy positions, instead using lofty rhetoric to make his final pitch to undecided voters.
Reading remarks from a teleprompter – an aid the campaign uses only during formal speeches – Romney criticized the president for focusing on "the small and the petty" in his campaign and failing to capitalize on America's great potential during his term in office.
"President Obama frequently reminds us that he inherited a troubled economy," Romney said. "But a troubled economy is not all that he inherited. He also inherited the greatest nation in the history of the earth."
In response to a slightly better-than-expected third quarter economic numbers released Friday, Romney said the nation's rate of growth was still "discouraging" and fell far short of what Obama had promised four years ago.
And the Republican nominee continued to moderate his appeal to voters in a key swing state in the final days of the election, focusing particularly on the theme of bipartisanship and saying he would make good on Obama's promise in 2008 to tame partisan rancor in the nation's capital.
"The President's campaign falls far short of the magnitude of these times. And the presidency of the last four years has fallen far short of the promises of the last campaign," Romney said. "Four years ago, America voted for a post-partisan president, but they have seen the most partisan and political of presidents, and a Washington in gridlock because of it."
Even before Romney gave his remarks, Democrats were predicting he would deliver little that was new.
In a statement released after the speech, Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith sought to tie Romney to "the same failed policies that crashed our economy in the first place."
"True to form, Mitt Romney's most recent 'major policy speech' included dishonest attacks and empty promises of change, but no new policy," Smith said. "That's because all Mitt Romney has is a one-point economic plan that he's been running on for two years: the very wealthy get to play by a very different set of rules than everyone else."