LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday branded President Barack Obama as an "old-school liberal" who is trying to resurrect failed policies, a new line of attack at the heart of the president's forward-looking re-election message.
The expected Republican presidential nominee said his general election opponent really wants to revive the policies of an outdated Democratic Party. Romney argued 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."
The charge is straight out of Obama's playbook.
The president has been arguing that Romney and congressional Republicans would pull the country back toward the Bush-era policies he says helped cause the recession. The argument is central to Obama's re-election campaign, which has adopted "Forward" as its slogan just as the general election begins to ramp up.
"We can't just go back to the way things used to be. We've got to move forward," Obama said Tuesday at a New York college.
Romney's broadside comes after a weeklong stretch in which Obama put benefits of incumbency on full display, starting with a surprise trip to Afghanistan, campaign rallies in two states that drew thousands-strong crowds larger than Romney's typical draw and a $25 million, monthlong advertising push in nine states. Romney, meanwhile, has spent the period trying to raise money to compete with Obama's cash stockpile while aides work behind the scenes to transition from a buttoned-down primary operation to a national campaign.
Romney's challenge is two-fold, however.
With polls showing a close race six months out, Romney is casting Obama as a liberal ideologue and himself as a can-do pragmatist — even as he works to court a conservative base that still hasn't warmed to him, but may be critical come this fall. To that end, Romney spent part of the day trumpeting the late-night endorsement — muted as it was — of former rival Rick Santorum, a hero to some conservatives.
Tuesday's appearance in Michigan — Romney's only public stop — was his first since narrowly defeating Santorum in the GOP primary here more than two months ago. Reminding voters that he was born and raised here, Romney's brother was in the audience and he noted that his parents once lived in the area.
Romney's father, George, is a former Michigan governor.
He did not address the revival of the U.S. auto industry based in the state, but was on the attack as he addressed supporters and compared Obama to another Democratic White House occupant, President Bill Clinton.