Republican Mitt Romney wrapped up his big week in politically pivotal Ohio and Florida on Saturday, grabbing for a jolt of momentum as Democrats prepared to seize the national stage. President Barack Obama campaigned in Iowa on Saturday, firing back that Romney's Republican convention was a "rerun" of old ideas.
The skirmish across several states came as Romney emerged from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and as Democrats started to arrive in Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention.
Late Saturday, Romney, along with running mate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, stopped at the Jacksonville Landing to drum up support for his presidential bid. A packed crowd of conservative supporters welcomed the candidates by fist-pumping Romney-Ryan posters and waving giant American flags in the scorching heat.
Earlier in the day, Romney appeared before a loud, appreciative audience of about 1,000 at Cincinnati's historic downtown art deco Union Terminal under a huge banner proclaiming the Republican ticket as "America's Comeback Team." The audience cheered when he pledged to repeal the 2010 federal health care law. They whooped and hollered when he sounded his key message of the day: "I will bring us together."
"I will do everything in my power to bring us together, because united, America built the strongest economy in the history of the earth," he said. "United, we put Neil Armstrong on the moon. United, we faced down unspeakable darkness. United, our men and women in uniform continue to defend freedom today."
Ohio native Neil Armstrong died a week ago.
Romney blamed Obama for poisoning the political debate. "These are tough times for the American people," he said. "And added to all that is the divisiveness and bitterness that we've seen from the president's campaign. Look, America is a story of the many becoming one and accomplishing extraordinary things because of our unity."
Paul Ryan was in nearby Columbus for Ohio State University's opening football game. On Saturday Ryan released a statement admitting that he didn't run a marathon in less than three hours, as he told radio host Hugh Hewitt last month. Ryan said he should have rounded his marathon time to four hours, not three.
Meanwhile Obama launched a "Road to Charlotte" tour Saturday at the Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa. He told an audience estimated at 10,000 that it was important to begin in Iowa, where he said his campaign got started more than four years ago and which "kept us going when the pundits were writing us off."
He lambasted the Republican convention, saying it offered a return to economic policies of the past. "Despite all the challenges we face, what they offered over those three days was more often than not an agenda that was better suited for the last century. It was a rerun. We've seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV."
He said at his convention he'd offer "what I believe is a better path forward. A path to grow this economy, create good jobs and strengthen the middle class. … We can choose whether we give massive new tax cuts to folks who've already made it or whether we keep the tax cuts for every American who's still trying to make it."
He defended his record amid crowd cheers of "four more years," saying he's cut taxes for the middle class and is running "to make sure taxes aren't raised a dime on your family's first $250,000 of income."
After being introduced by a veteran at the event, Obama also noted that Romney had "nothing to say about Afghanistan" during his convention speech, "let alone offer a plan for the 33,000 troops who will have come home from the war by the end of this month."
Obama will visit Colorado today.
The Associated Press, Florida Times-Union and McClatchy Newspapers contributed to this report.