Romney pledges bipartisanship in final push

Mitt Romney signed an autograph for a supporter in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mitt Romney signed an autograph for a supporter in Des Moines, Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Mitt Romney sprinted through battleground states on Sunday with a renewed pledge to bring a spirit of cooperation to Washington.

He’s also promising to pursue an agenda that would alienate most Democrats on his first day in office.

In the first of four campaign stops, Romney reminded Iowa voters that on Day One, he would begin to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. He also wants to weaken labor unions and overturn Democrat-backed legislation that overhauled the nation’s financial system.


But the polarizing priorities are not his focus at swelling rallies in the presidential contest’s final hours.

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With an eye toward undecided voters — women and independents in particular — Romney is vowing to work closely with ‘‘good Democrats’’ if elected. The pledge of bipartisan cooperation fueled Obama’s candidacy four years ago and remains a key piece of the incumbent’s message. But for Romney, the bipartisan appeal became the focus of his closing argument only in recent weeks.

‘‘On Nov. 6 we’re going to come together for a better future. On Nov. 7, we'll get to work,’’ Romney told an Iowa crowd estimated at 4,400. ‘‘You reach across the street to that neighbor with the other yard sign. And I'll reach across the aisle to people in the other party, people in good faith, because this time demands bringing America together.’’

But beyond recent campaign trail speeches, there is little sign that Romney has laid the groundwork to bridge the partisan divide in Washington.

He offers a distinctly partisan tone in a new ad running in North Dakota this week, urging voters there to elect Senate candidate Rick Berg to ‘‘stop the liberal Reid-Pelosi agenda.’’


And Romney had little, if any, communication with Democratic leaders in recent days as he monitored the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He reached out to East Coast governors for updates, but only Republicans.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry told The Associated Press on Sunday that Romney’s promise to begin to repeal the Affordable Care Act, better known as ‘‘Obamacare,’’ on Day One is ‘‘an invitation to total gridlock.’’

Kerry also questioned Romney’s record of bipartisanship in Massachusetts, where Kerry served as a senator while Romney was governor. He said he could count on a single hand his interactions with Romney in those years.

‘‘The mythology of his record in Massachusetts is extraordinary,’’ Kerry said.

Indeed, Obama, too, offered a cooperative tone while campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday.


‘‘As long as I'm president I will work with anybody of any party to move this country forward,’’ Obama said. ‘‘If you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you'll vote for leaders who feel the same way, whether they are Democrats or Republicans or independents.’’

At a rally in Cleveland later in the day, Romney said that only he can work with Congress.

‘‘It’s not only Republicans that he refused to listen to. He also refused to listen to independent voices,’’ he said of Obama, without elaborating.

Romney continued: ‘‘You hoped President Obama would live up to his promise to bring people together to solve big problems. But he hasn't. And I will.’’