GRAND JUNCTION, COLO. - Mitt Romney on Tuesday told voters in western Colorado's largest city that the president's tax plan is a "kick in the gut" for a nation that fell further behind under the liberal policies of his administration.
Romney assailed President Obama on the economy, citing a recent dismal jobs report, in a rousing speech before nearly 1,000 people gathered in a small gymnasium in Grand Junction, a heavily Republican area hit hard by the economic downturn.
Colorado, Romney told the crowd, "can well be the place that decides who your next president is going to be."
The Romney campaign chose the school's smaller gymnasium, but probably could have filled a larger one next door, as hundreds gathered in an overflow spot on the lawn outside.
Romney, who is back on the campaign trail after a week's vacation, condemned Obama's recently announced plan to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts only to people earning less than $250,000.
"For American job creators and small businesses, he's announced a massive tax increase," Romney said.
Except for an audience member's questioning of Romney's views on gay marriage, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee received an enthusiastic reception. The crowd wildly cheered his plans to lower taxes, reduce government spending and eliminate Obama's health care reforms.
"This old-style liberalism of bigger and bigger government and bigger and bigger taxes has got to end and we will end it in November," Romney said.
An audience member asked Romney about how he plans to debate Obama on the health care law since Romney implemented a similar mandate to purchase health insurance when he was governor of Massachusetts.
"I sure hope the president brings it up because I'll point out the differences between what we did and what he did," Romney said. "What we did is work on a bipartisan basis. I vetoed a number of measures in the bill and it was something we worked out for our own state. States are the places where we make we decisions that affect the lives of people and I like that idea."
Many of those who turned out for Romney said they're motivated to vote for him, in part, because they are so deeply opposed the notion of a second term for Obama.
Romney will likely face a much different crowd in Colorado's urban areas, where support for Obama run higher.
But in Grand Junction, the crowd was clearly with Romney.
"Obama wants to take us down a more socialist track where government controls every aspect of our lives," Jackie Sequi-Edelmann said after the speech. "I like Romney's stance on the economy and his family. I think he's going to win in a landslide."