With the state's caucuses just five days away, Romney advised Iowans to base their vote on “who you think can beat Barack Obama.”
Contrasting himself to Obama, Romney reminded voters that he served in government for just four years and otherwise spent his life in the private sector.
“I like to say I didn’t inhale,” he said of his time in the public sector, a joking reference to former President Bill Clinton's claims about his marijuana use during college.
Under Obama, Romney said the U.S. is turning into a place where “class warfare replaces the American spirit and envy replaces ambition.”
“I don’t think he understands America,” Romney told hundreds of voters in Mason City, Iowa, drifting into a stump speech that emphasized his electability.
Obama wants to “transform” America, whereas Romney wants to “restore” America, Romney said, intermittently coloring his remarks with lines from the National Anthem and the Declaration of Independence.
One Hawkeye State voter in the crowd reminded Romney that he hasn’t spent much time in Iowa, after largely ignoring the state until this month, when it suddenly became more critical to his campaign strategy.
Romney said he’s in Iowa now, and that’s all that should matter to voters.
“The best thing I can do is show [voters] that I’m going to be here,” he said, reminding the crowd that he has launched a bus tour across the state.
The Romney campaign released a schedule late Thursday showing that the candidate indeed plans to stay in Iowa until the Jan. 3 caucuses, apart from two brief stops in New Hampshire over the weekend.