JANESVILLE, WI -- Mitt Romney made a bold prediction in Wisconsin to open the fourth day of his swing state bus tour: he would steal the Badger State from the Democratic column this November.
"I think President Obama had just put this in his column, he just assumed at the very beginning Wisconsin was going to be his," Romney told a crowd of more than 700 supporters gathered on a factory floor here. "But you know what, we’re going to win Wisconsin. We’re going to get the White House."
Romney made only one stop here today on his five-day, six-state bus tour, and it might be for the best -- his campaign bus might not have seats for all the surrogates who came out to support him this morning.
Evan Vucci / AP
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gestures during a campaign stop at Monterey Mills June 18 in Janesville, Wis.
There was Sen. Ron Johnson, who toppled Democrat Russ Feingold in 2010, and Reince Priebus, the Kenosha-born former Wisconsin GOP chairman who now leads the Republican National Committee.
"I got to tell you we have a little stimulus plan of our own and the stimulus plan is renowned by economists, like Paul Ryan," Priebus said. "Here is the stimulus plan: elect Mitt Romney, fire Barack Obama, and save America, right?"
But the loudest cheers weren't for Rep. Paul Ryan, the hometown favorite in Janesville and possible vice presidential contender; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, the recent victor in a recall election who introduced Romney, who elicited the loudest cheers from the crowd.
“It is my honor to still be the 45th governor of Wisconsin and it is my honor to be on the stage with the man I hope is the 45th president of these United States,” Walker said.
Walker's retention in the face of a labor-backed recall challenge, has fired up the Republican base here. The governor emerged as a hero to conservatives after eliminating most public workers' collective bargaining rights. Despite sharp disagreements over the implications of Walker's victory over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) earlier this month, the Romney campaign's senior advisers say they plan to compete aggressively in Wisconsin this fall, if only to keep President Obama on defense.
Romney was also on the attack this morning, accusing the president of replacing a slogan of "hope and change" with a hope to change the subject away from the economy, and of being unable to run on a tepid economic recovery the president insists needs more time to catch fire.
"These are challenging times for Americans, and because of [President Obama's] failed record his campaign is having a hard time deciding what to talk about, because they’d like to talk about the economy, they'd like to talk about his record but you know, the last time his campaign slogan was hope and change this time he’s going with: we hope to change the subject," Romney said.
Romney and Democrats also traded charges of evasiveness in the speech and subsequent spinning from the Obama campaign, with a spokesperson for the president's campaign declaring Romney's speech to be packed with "evasive and angry rhetoric," and Romney accusing the president of trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people as he fought for more time in office.
"He tries to tell people that his policies are actually working, that its just taking longer than we had all been told—promised," Romney said. "And I can tell you that I know he’s a very eloquent person and he’s able to describe these policies in great detail and in some respects tell you that night is day and day is night, but people know better."