Mitt Romney is setting up the closing weeks as a choice between what he says is President Obama's "small" campaign that's offering little new policy and his own ambitious plan to fundamentally change America's tax code and entitlement programs.
The new Romney ad criticizes the president's policies on debt, health care, taxes, and energy, arguing that Obama is simply offering more of the same. The fundraising appeal hits Obama for raising taxes and increasing the debt by $5.5 trillion, repeating the lack-of-agenda criticism.
Obama, meanwhile, called for creating 1 million manufacturing jobs over the next four years with a mix of corporate tax rate cuts and innovation and training programs. He has set a goal of cutting the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years. He also has called for Congress to pass proposals he made last year that include includes tax credits for companies that hire new workers and funding for local municipalities to hire more teachers, police officers and firefighters.
The president's aides are particularly irked by the questions about Obama's second-term agenda, because they say it's Romney who has failed to provide voters with details. They point to Romney's refusal to provide specifics about his tax plan or outline what he would replace the president's health care overhaul with if he makes good on his promise to repeal the federal law.
And at last night's debate Romney scrambled to position himself as a centrist on global affairs, a dramatic shift for the Republican challenger.
Romney appeared determined to emerge mistake-free from the last of three presidential debates, this one on foreign policy, where Obama leads among voters. Romney appeared to have succeeded, but his performance gave the Obama campaign more ammunition for its allegations that Romney is willing to suddenly shift or get rid of more conservative positions to satisfy the immediate needs of his bid to unseat the president.
On most issues facing the U.S. abroad, Romney largely expressed agreement with how Obama has conducted U.S. foreign policy. On the violence in Syria, for example, he said he would not get the United States involved militarily, even though he wants to find a way to arm the opposition.
Notably, neither candidate mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the European debt crisis or climate change.
Obama hit Romney again Tuesday on his shifting positions, joking his opponent was suffering from what he called "stage 3 Romnesia."
"We are accustomed to seeing politicians change their position from four years ago," Obama told a Florida rally. "We are not accustomed to seeing politicians change their positions from four days ago."