RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
With his much-publicized foreign trip behind him, Mitt Romney traveled yesterday to the swing state of Colorado. He huddled with Republican governors who he praised on him in Aspen, where he also held a fundraiser. The Republican candidate began his trip at a rally in the Denver suburb of Golden, which is where NPR's Brian Naylor begins his report.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: After a brief foray into foreign policy, Mitt Romney has returned his campaign's focus to more familiar turf, the economy. In his stops yesterday, the Republican candidate outlined a five-point plan he says will create more jobs and increase workers' take home pay - a plan for a stronger middle class. It involves some familiar GOP themes - more drilling for energy independence, promoting school choice and deficit reduction. Romney said the president has gone about it the wrong way.
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MITT ROMNEY: It's like a dog trying to chase its tail, you just don't ever get there. So the right answer is not to raise taxes, the right answer is to reduce government spending and finally create the incentives to put people back to work again and grow this economy.
NAYLOR: Romney offered few specifics as to which government spending he would cut or how he would create incentives. But the middle class has increasingly become the theme of the presidential contest.
President Obama released a new ad yesterday accusing Romney of wanting to cut taxes on the wealthy and pay for it by taking tax deductions away from middle income earners.
The airwaves in Colorado are filled with ads from both candidates, as well as from outside groups, who see Colorado as very much in play this year after voting for Mr. Obama four years ago. There had been a brief hiatus in the ad wars in the aftermath of the shooting in Aurora, and Romney met with one of the massacre survivors yesterday.
ROMNEY: I guess maybe by applause we show how united we are with the tragedy of those people - how much we love them, how much we care for them.
NAYLOR: Romney also took time for an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio show. He was asked about charges by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said he has been told by an unnamed investor at Bain Capital, Romney's old company, that Romney didn't pay any income taxes for 10 years. Romney hit back.
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ROMNEY: Well, it's time for Harry to put up or shut up. Harry is going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because, of course, that's totally and completely wrong. It's untrue, dishonest and inaccurate. It's wrong.
NAYLOR: Romney then flew over the Rockies to Aspen, where the nation's Republican governors have been meeting. Nine of them appeared on stage with the former Massachusetts governor, including several who have been mentioned as his running mate.
The loudest cheers went to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who said Americans want a leader who's is willing to lead.
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GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: And the president of the United States has been like a man walking around in a dark room looking for the light switch of leadership for the last four years. He hasn't found it yet. He's not going to find it in the next few months.
NAYLOR: On his flight to Aspen, Romney was asked when a running mate choice might be made. I've got nothing for you, he said.
In the meantime, his campaign released a white paper critical of the Obama administration's economic policies and promised an energy plan that Romney says will free North America from imported oil.
The return to the states and to domestic issues seemed to re-energize the Romney camp, which had seemed off balance at times overseas. Today the candidate will appear in Nevada and on Saturday in Indiana, two more states he hopes to take back from the president in November.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, Aspen, Colorado.
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