President Obama argued at length on Thursday that his economic vision would protect the middle class, while the ideas put forward by Republican challenger Mitt Romney would repeat the mistakes of the past.
Following a separate speech by Romney in the critical voting state of Ohio, Obama appealed to voters to "break the stalemate in Washington." The back-to-back face-offs were billed as the opportunity to more clearly outline differences between the two candidates.
“The debate in this election is about how we grow faster, and how we create more jobs and how we pay down our debt. That’s the question facing the American voter. And in this election you have two very different visions to choose from,” Obama said.
The president, speaking in Cleveland for more than twice as long as his political challenger did in Cincinnati, didn’t lay out any new policy proposals, but reiterated calls for investments in education and infrastructure, and for taking a balanced approach to addressing the national deficits and debt.
“If you want to give the policies of the last decade another try, then you should vote for Mr. Romney,” Obama said. He added, “We can’t afford to jeopardize our future by repeating the mistakes of the past.”
“This has to be our North Star: an economy that’s not built from the top down, but from a growing middle class,” the president said. Cutting taxes and regulation in the past created wealth for the richest Americans but didn’t trickle down to the middle class, he said.
Romney and his fellow Republicans have embraced “a no-holds barred, government is the enemy, markets is everything, approach,” Obama added.
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