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Saturday February 13th, 2016 10:25AM

Romney warns against re-electing Obama

By The Associated Press
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) -- In a speech billed as his closing argument to voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned Friday that re-electing his Democratic opponent would threaten another government shutdown and national default.

The former Massachusetts governor said only he can work with Congress to keep any of that from happening.

"He's ignored them, he's attacked them, he's blamed them," Romney said about President Barack Obama and Congress. "The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy."

Romney, who has struck an increasingly bipartisan tone in recent weeks, used Friday's address to help crystalize what he says would be the real-world impact of Obama's continued inability to break the political gridlock in Washington.

Indeed, whoever is elected immediately will face the so-called "fiscal cliff" - a combination of tax increases and domestic and military spending cuts set to take effect next year unless Congress and the White House agree on a plan to stop it.

Romney said the choice voters face Tuesday boils down to one simple question. "Do you want more of the same or do you want real change?" he told hundreds of supporters packed into a cement-floored Wisconsin warehouse.

The excited group cheered thunderously as Romney took the stage and several times broke into spontaneous chants of "Four more days!" - the length of time until Election Day.

Romney's speech followed by hours the release of the Labor Department's final jobs report before the election. It showed that U.S. employers added 171,000 jobs in October and that hiring was stronger in September and August than first thought. The unemployment rate inched up to 7.9 percent, from 7.8 percent in September, because more people started looking for work.

The report sketched a picture of a job market that is gradually gaining momentum after nearly stalling in the spring.

In a statement issued before arriving in Wisconsin, the home state of GOP running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney said the new unemployment report was a "sad reminder that the economy is at a virtual standstill."

While polls have shown the economy is the top concern of most voters, Romney's advisers don't believe the new jobs number will have any impact on the election. Privately, they said the report was likely a wash - with a slight uptick in unemployment and stronger-than-expected job growth. Publicly, they said it gave Romney a new point to hammer home in the final days.

"The fact that unemployment is higher today than the day President Obama took office will reinforce voters' desire for change," said senior Romney strategist Ed Gillespie. "Mitt Romney will hammer home his ability to turn the economy around over the next four days, in sharp contrast to Obama's chronically high unemployment."

In the speech, Romney asked people to vote for "real change" if they are "tired of being tired."

"I won't waste any time complaining about my predecessor. I won't spend my effort trying to pass partisan legislation unrelated to economic growth," he said, referring to Obama blaming his Republican predecessor for the state of the economy and spending his first year in office pushing the health care law through Congress.

"From Day One, I will go to work to help Americans get back to work," Romney said, campaigning briefly in a state he last visited in August.

While Romney's team is making an aggressive play for Wisconsin, no Republican has won the state since President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Following the speech, he headed to another key battleground, Ohio, the first stop in a whirlwind tour set to take him to New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida - some states more than once - before Tuesday.

Romney was optimistic about Wisconsin.

"This is a turnout election," he said. "We're going to do something that surprises a few people in the White House that are there right now. And that is, we're going to win Wisconsin."
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