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Obama, Romney shift to general election
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The race
for president shifted dramatically Friday into a general election
matchup between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney as the
candidates delivered dueling, sharp-tongued speeches about the
In Appleton, Wis., Romney assumed the mantle of presumptive
nominee, delivering a revamped address attacking what he called Obama's
vision for a “government-centered society.” Obama, in a four-stop
campaign swing through New England, offered a robust defense of his
first term and invoked his 2008 rallying cry by characterizing his
actions as “what change is.”
At a campaign fundraiser a the University of
Vermont on Friday, President Obama said he's "not a perfect" president,
but he told a cheering crowd he's "kept his promise" of "fighting as
hard as I know how for you."
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For months, the Republican nominating contest has dominated
national headlines, with Romney fending off intense challenges from more
conservative alternatives. But with the former Massachusetts governor
pulling ahead in the delegate count and the White House moving into full
reelection mode, both sides are now treating the campaign as a duel
between Romney and Obama.
The president took credit for saving the
auto industry, preventing a historic economic collapse and passing a
sweeping health-care overhaul (though he did not mention the Supreme Court case challenging the law).
His work is unfinished in Washington, he said, and he exhorted wildly
enthusiastic crowds in deep-blue Burlington, Vt., and suburban Portland
to help him win another term — so that more change can come.
also signaled the broad themes in his quest for reelection and offered
his sharpest critique yet of what he called the GOP’s vision for
America. Although he never named Romney, he framed a choice between
middle-class security and “you’re on your own” economics. He rebuked his
detractors for claiming the edge in “values.” He portrayed Republicans
as more extreme and less willing to seek bipartisan solutions than ever.
And he embraced his accomplishments, even the controversial ones, with a
“I warned you in the campaign this was going to be
hard,” Obama told a packed arena at Southern Maine Community College,
where his speech was punctuated by shrieks of support. “Big change is
hard. It takes time. It takes more than a single year. It takes more
than a single term. It takes more than a single president.”
in Wisconsin, delivered the latest of what his campaign calls his
“framing speeches,” this one about “restoring America’s promise.” It was
a passionate defense of America’s free-enterprise system, which he said
has been under attack by an administration that considers business as
“the villain and not the solution.”
“In Barack Obama’s
government-centered society, the government must do more because the
economy is doomed to do less,” Romney said. “When you attack business
and vilify success, you will have less business and less success.”
stopping short of labeling Obama a socialist, saying: “President Obama
is transforming America into something very different than the land of
the free and the land of opportunity. And we know where that
transformation leads. There are other nations that have chosen that path
and it leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt and stagnant
wages. Sound familiar?”
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