LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Mitt Romney is turning President Barack Obama's campaign message on its head.
The expected Republican presidential nominee said Tuesday that Obama wants to return America to "old-school liberal" policies of the past, and said that he alone would guide the country in a new direction away from bigger government and higher taxes.
"The president is trying to breathe life into the failed policies of the past," Romney told supporters at Lansing Community College. "This is a time for new answers, new ideas and a new direction."
Obama has argued that Romney is the one who would take the country backward. The argument is central to Obama's re-election campaign, which has adopted "Forward" as its slogan. The president and other Democrats say Republican support for tax cuts and less government regulation didn't work and blame those policies for causing the recession.
"This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and we've been through too much to turn back now," Obama said last weekend at a campaign rally in Ohio. "We have come too far to abandon the change we fought for these past few years. We have to move forward."
Romney on Tuesday also used former President Bill Clinton to criticize Obama.
The former Massachusetts governor said Clinton represented a "new Democrat" who fought for welfare reform and tax cuts, while Obama is an "old-school liberal."
"President Clinton, remember he said the era of big government was over," Romney said. "President Obama brought it back with a vengeance."
Romney offered little detail about his new vision for the country.
He said generally that he would introduce new competition to health care sectors and education. He also promised to help revive America's manufacturing sector by pushing for new energy, trade and labor policies.
"Of course I'm going to be discussing these in a lot more depth throughout the campaign," Romney said.
24 Hour News 8 Reporter Rick Albin says in many ways this is the first general election stop in the state for the presumptive GOP nominee.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder introduced Romney, who narrowly won the state's Feb. 28 Republican presidential primary over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Romney won 16 of Michigan's national convention delegates to Santorum's 14. Santorum and Gingrich have since dropped out of the race.
Santorum on Monday endorsed Romney.
President Barack Obama was last in Michigan on April 18, when he attended Democratic fundraising events in Dearborn and Bingham Farms. More than 4,000 Democratic activists nominated him for a second term at party caucuses Saturday.
24 Hour News 8's Rick Albin contributed to this report.
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