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In surprise stop, Romney tries to build momentum after debate

DENVER -- Mitt Romney looked to build on last night's aggressive debate performance this morning, as he made a surprise visit to a gathering of conservative activists to advance his argument that President Obama is building a "trickle-down government."

"Last night, I thought, was a great opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country," Romney told several hundred conservative activists gathered for the Colorado CPAC conference.

"I think it was helpful to be able to describe those visions.  I saw the president's vision as trickle-down government ,and I don't think that's what America believes in. I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom," Romney said. "We have two very different courses for America -- trickle-down government or prosperity through freedom."

If there was any doubt that the GOP challenger had found a new attack line against the president, it was quickly dispelled as Romney hammered the "trickle-down" point again and again.

"Trickle-down government will not create the jobs Americans need. Trickle-down government will not bring down the cost of energy," Romney said. "Freedom is what drives America's economy."

The brief remarks here marked Romney's first effort at building momentum off of last night's debate, which Republicans hope can become a turning point in an election that has remained stubbornly locked in place for weeks.

Following last night's debate, Romney advisers telegraphed a more aggressive campaign going forward, including increased TV ad spending in states like Ohio, where Romney continues to trail the president by a significant margin, and more details -- including a speech on foreign policy next Monday at the Virginia Military Institute.