Republican Mitt Romney refocused his campaign Thursday after a rocky overseas tour, touting a recovery plan he said will create millions of jobs and giving President Barack Obama failing grades for his time in the White House.
Romney, in the battleground state of Colorado for his first appearance in more than a week before US voters, pushed a plan to strengthen the middle class by slashing spending, cutting taxes and achieving energy independence by 2020.
After spending six days in Britain, Israel and Poland, and refraining from criticizing Obama while on foreign soil, Romney quickly trained his fire on the president's record, whipping out a "report card" that showed Obama had failed by several of his own measures over the past three and a half years.
Romney cited an unemployment rate that has refused to drop below 8.0 percent, exploding federal deficits, shrinking home prices and shriveling wages.
"All measures he laid out are measures that have gone in the wrong direction," Romney told some 2,000 people in Golden, just outside Denver.
Citing the 23 million Americans now out of work, Romney described Obama's record on job creation "a tragedy. It's a moral failing."
"His policies have not worked," said the former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire ex-businessman. "My policies will work, and I know that because they have worked in the past."
Team Romney laid out a full-court press Thursday, complete with opinion pieces, a new ad attacking Obama over small business and job creation, and advisers savaging the president for failing to turn the economy around.
"In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices," Romney economic adviser Glenn Hubbard wrote in The Wall Street Journal, a day before the Labor Department is expected to report unemployment was stuck above eight percent for the 42nd straight month in July.
"We can do this (but) we must have vastly different policies aimed at stopping runaway federal spending and debt, reforming our tax code and entitlement programs, and scaling back costly regulations."
Hubbard called such elements "the core of governor Romney's plan for economic recovery and renewal."
Romney appeared in Golden in front of new signage that laid out his plan for a "stronger middle class."
The platform was a recycling of ideas he has put forward previously on the campaign trail, including reducing individual income tax rates across the board by 20 percent and slashing corporate income tax down to 25 percent.
Hubbard said that would increase gross domestic product growth by up to one percent per year over the coming decade, enabling the private sector to create 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term.
The White House, locked in a battle with Romney over how best to pull the economy out of a rut, has said such a move would add at least $5 trillion to the US debt and put the burden on the backs of middle class families.
With polarized lawmakers bickering over taxes and unfinished financial business, Romney suggested he could help break the impasse in Washington.
"We've got to have someone that goes to Washington that buries the hatchet and says, you know what? There are good Democrats, there are good Republicans that care about America," he said.
"Let's work together to get the American people working, get some growth again."
Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom and other aides said uncertainty over Obama's tax and regulatory policy had reduced GDP by as much as 1.5 percent last year alone.
"The economy is not just downshifting, it's slipping into reverse," Fehrnstrom said.
Romney was to hold another Colorado event later Thursday near Aspen, where he will be joined by several Republican governors including Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey, both of whom have been mentioned as potential Romney running mates.