Romney, delivering what his campaign billed as a major economic address before supporters in Ames, Iowa, said Obama "did not repair our economy, he did not save Medicare and Social Security, he did not tame the spending and borrowing, he did not reach across the aisle to bring us together."
The speech capped a week of barnstorming swing states in a final push ahead of the Nov. 6 election and came as the Commerce Department reported gross domestic product growth for the third quarter came in at 2 percent -- better than expected but less than the level economists say is needed to get the economy moving.
"While we have more work to do, together with other economic indicators, this report provides further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction," White House chief economist Alan Krueger said.
Obama was back in Washington Friday after a week on the road. He had 10 interviews scheduled.
Romney said the nation is at a turning point.
"We recognize this is a year with a big choice, and the American people want to see big changes," Romney said in remarks prepared for delivery.
"Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest -- from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false" -- references to Romney's plans to ax funds for public broadcasting and Obama's coining of the term "Romnesia" to describe what Obama says are Romney's shifting positions on issues.
Romney repeated his charge the president has done little to fulfill his campaign promises and ridiculed administration efforts to create jobs.
"This election is about big things -- like the education of our children, the value of our homes, the take home pay from our jobs, the price of the gasoline we buy, and the choices we have in our healthcare," Romney said. "It is also about the big things that determine these things -- like the growth of the economy, the strength of our military, our dependence on foreign oil and America's leadership in the world."
Romney acknowledged Obama inherited a damaged economy but he said the actions Obama took made the situation worse by swelling the deficit and increasing the national debt.
"No, the problem with the Obama economy is not what he inherited; it is with the misguided policies that slowed the recovery, and caused millions of Americans to endure lengthy unemployment and poverty," Romney said.
In commenting on the GDP announcement, Romney said the slow growth figures are "discouraging."
"Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take home pay. This is what four years of President Obama's policies have produced. Americans are ready for change -- for growth, for jobs, for more take home pay," he said.
Senate Democrats to pull all-nighter on climate change
Interpol investigating stolen passports on missing flight