DENVER — The morning after Mitt Romney delivered a well-regarded pitch in the first presidential debate, the GOP nominee said Thursday his face-off with President Obama showcased their starkly different paths for the nation’s future.
“The American people last night were given a choice. They were given a choice between two different visions for America. One where we continue down the road to become more and more like Europe, where government gets larger and larger, more and more intrusive in our lives, spending more and more, borrowing more and more,” he said. “The other is a path that returns America to America, where we will restore the principles of freedom and hope and opportunity and hope that this nation has always been built upon. I will take us there, with your help. We’re going to take back this country.”
Romney made the remarks at a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference here. Four of his five sons, who were slated to appear, were on stage and Tagg Romney said that Ben Romney was in medical school and unable to attend. But they did find a replacement, he said, “another member of the family.”
The nominee then appeared on stage and the crowd roared. “When I heard my boys were going to be here, I couldn’t resist,” he said.
It was Romney’s first public appearance since Wednesday night’s debate, a critical moment in his presidential bid, which had been seen as flailing. Romney was widely regarded as the winner, appearing confident and presidential, while Obama was perceived as not fully focused.
Speaking for nine minutes, Romney reflected on their first face-to-face contest.
“Last night I thought was a great opportunity for the American people to see two very different visions for the country. And I think it was helpful to be able to describe those visions. I saw the president’s vision as trickle-down government, and I don’t think that’s what America believes in,” Romney said. “I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom. We have two very different courses for America.”
Romney also pressed upon the importance of Colorado, a battleground state with nine electoral votes that both campaigns are fiercely contesting.
“I know this is going to be a close-fought battle,” he said. “We need to win Colorado. You know what, if we do, we are going to win back the White House.”
“For that to happen you guys are going to have to cheer here, and then go out and knock on doors, and get people who voted for President Obama to see the light and come join our team,” he said. “And if you do that, why, why we’ll all be able to come together and have a wonderful inauguration celebration in January. So let’s make sure that happens.”