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Friday, November 2, 2012

Romney\'s Closing Argument: \'Look to the Record\'

Mitt Romney greeted supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in West Allis, Wis.Stephen Crowley/The New York Times Mitt Romney greeted supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in West Allis, Wis.

WEST ALLIS, Wis. â€" At the start of a frantic final weekend of campaigning, Mitt Romney on Friday urged voters to judge him on his record in government and accomplishments in the private sector, arguing in a lofty speech that he offered deeper experience and a greater commitment to bipartisanship than President Obama.

In what his aides called a closing argument to the electorate after 18 months of bruising politics, Mr. Romney asked that Americans “look to the record, the accomplishments and failures, and the judgment.”

“President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it,” Mr. Romney said. “I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it.”

“Words are cheap,” he said, in an allusion to Mr. Obama's skills as an orator. “A record is real and earned with effort. Change cannot be measured in speeches; it is measured in achievements.”

With four days left in the campaign, Mr. Romney traveled to the swing state of Wisconsin, a state that the president carried handily in 2008 but where polls show a neck-and-neck contest this time around. In a nod to his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsinite whose selection has lifted his standing in the state, Mr. Romney said, “Next to Ann Romney, Paul Ryan is the best choice I ever made.”

After weeks of rallies at high school fields and factory floors, Mr. Romney's speech here had a formality and sweep that are frequently missing from his day-to-day campaigning. He wore a dark sui t and read from a teleprompter.

Mr. Romney portrayed the Obama presidency as a series of broken promises and a time of unrealized potential.

“Four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short,” he said. “He promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan - blaming, attacking, dividing.”

“He was going to focus on creating jobs,” he added. “Instead, he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs. He said he was going to cut the federal deficit by half. Then he doubled it.”

Mr. Romney offered himself up as a tested leader, doing something he rarely does on the campaign trail - spinning through his entire résumé. He alluded to his time as chief executive of Bain Capital, the private equity firm; his role in turning around Bain Consulting, which ran into financial trouble; his stint running the Salt Lake City Olympic Games; and his term as governor of Massachusetts.

As he has throughout the past few weeks, Mr. Romney played up the theme of bipartisanship, arguing that Mr. Obama had alienated Republicans with his tactics and would be unable to change the tenor of Washington.

“I won't waste any time complaining about my predecessor,” he said. “I won't spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation unrelated to economic growth. From Day 1, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work.”