Mitt Romney is opening his first formal day as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate by pitching himself as the one to heal the economy and issuing a direct challenge to the man he wants to replace: "Barack Obama has failed America," he says.
In excerpts released ahead of his formal kick-off speech Thursday, Romney homes in on the economic woes that are frustrating voters: a lack of jobs, persistent foreclosures and runaway spending in Washington.
It's a pitch tailored to the conservatives who hold great sway in picking the GOP's presidential nominee in Iowa and South Carolina - and the independents who are the largest politic bloc in New Hampshire. And it is as much a thesis on his viability as it is an indictment of Obama's leadership.
"A few years ago, Americans did something that was, actually, very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead, someone we hadn't known for very long, who didn't have much of a record but promised to lead us to a better place," Romney says, describing the man he hopes to meet head-to-head in November 2012.
"At the time, we didn't know what sort of a president he would make. ... Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. Barack Obama has failed America."