MANCHESTER: Republican Mitt Romney launched his general election campaign against President Barack Obama after sweeping five primaries on Tuesday, condemning the president for false promises and weak leadership and declaring “a better America begins tonight.”
Romney claimed victory in the Republican nominating race and outlined the themes of his campaign against Obama, asking Americans if they were better off under his administration and accusing the president of failing to deliver on his campaign pledges of hope and change.
“What do we have to show for three-and-a-half years of President Obama?” Romney asked during a speech in New Hampshire. “Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job?”
Romney, who has put the economy at the centre of his campaign, slammed Obama’s economic policies and said they had led to “hopes and dreams diminished.” “People are hurting in America, and we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country,” he said.
“This election is about the kind of America we will live in,” he said. “In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded.”
Romney’s speech, focused almost exclusively on the economy, came after he rolled to easy double-digit victories in five Northeastern states — Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — with a combined 231 delegates.
The wins moved Romney, who entered the night with 695 delegates, closer to the 1,144 he needs to formally clinch the nomination, a milestone that is still weeks away.
Romney effectively ended the Republican race on April 10 when his top rival, Rick Santorum, suspended his White House campaign.
The primaries on Tuesday ended former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich’s bid. The other remaining candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul said he would not drop out even after Romney clinches the nomination.
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, enters the election campaign bruised from a bitter primary battle.
He is faced with the task of consolidating support from conservatives who distrust him for the more moderate positions he took as governor of liberal Massachusetts, particularly his support for a healthcare overhaul that became a precursor to Obama’s federal plan.
At the same time, he must turn towards winning over undecided independent voters who are likely to decide the election, and bolster his lagging support among women, Hispanics and young people, a very significant constituency.