By NBC's Garrett Haake, Alex Moe and Jamie Novogrod
DAVENPORT, IA - Returning to Iowa for just the fourth time this year, Mitt Romney stayed tightly on message at two campaign stops today; selling his deficit cutting plan and keeping his sights set on President Obama, whose defeat in 2012 he said was vital for America's future.
"This is a critical time for us. I don't want to wake up a year from now and turn on my TV and have it say 'President Obama reelected' because I know what that means. It means a weaker America," Romney told an audience of roughly 200 supporters this morning in Dubuque. "I want to see a new president that will take America in a great tradition and a new tradition, one that makes America the best place in the world to be middle class again. I will be that president."
"Now there is a different alternative of course. We turn on our TV and the TV says 'Mitt is it.' Now that's what I'm planning on with your help," Romney said in Davenport tonight.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continues to stump in Iowa, touting his plan for reviving the economy. NBC's Garrett Haake reports.
Romney, who did not take questions from the press or the public at either event, used both speeches as opportunities to sell three of the primary tenets of his deficit plan: cutting unneeded programs, sending others back to the states, and improving government's efficiency by cutting waste.
The former Massachusetts governor promised to slash federal subsidies for Amtrak, send Medicaid back to the states, and cut the federal workforce by attrition, while attempting to bring their pay scale more in line with the private sector. Shaking hands after the first event, he was repeatedly asked by voters if he would also defund Planned Parenthood, which he said he would.
He did not, however, spend time discussing the more controversial elements of his deficit plan: adding a "premium support" option to Medicare, with which seniors could buy private insurance instead of relying on traditional Medicare, and gradually raising the eligibility age for social security.
Despite only making two stops today, Romney got his money's worth visually. Both events were elaborately staged, with a huge steel Romney sign in the shape of the state of Iowa behind him at the first, and an even larger, backlit "Romney: Believe in America" sign backing him at the second. A multi-camera film crew with a jib and high-end lighting gear were highly visible at each event, and when asked by NBC, campaign officials did not deny that they were shooting a television commercial. Several of Romney's rivals, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, have already aired television ads in Iowa, but the Romney campaign has not.
Tomorrow, Romney travels to Chicago, before his next public appearance, at Wednesday night's CNBC debate in Michigan.