Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at the Smithfield Foods Hangar on November 4, 2012 (Photo Courtesy: Getty Images)
This presidential campaign has allowed me to travel to every corner of the country and listen to the hopes and concerns of people of every class, race and background. It has reaffirmed to me what an extraordinarily impressive, resilient and compassionate country America is. But it has also reinforced in me the belief that America is facing serious challenges and in need of serious change.
We are at a turning point. The decision we make on Tuesday will affect not only us but also generations yet to be born. President Obama and I offer fundamentally different visions about the size, cost, reach and role of the federal government. And this election will determine our policies on job growth and debt, on whether our standard of living rises or falls, and whether we have unity at home.
We can do better
Four years ago, we were promised a new beginning - but it turned out to be false start. President Obama is a well-intentioned man whose policies have manifestly failed. Under his stewardship, we've seen a historically weak economic recovery, chronically high unemployment, falling household incomes, rising health care and tuition costs, a record number of Americans in poverty and on food stamps, record deficits, and a national debt that threatens to bury our future. President Obama calls this a recovery. Most Americans consider it a disaster.
Fortunately we still have time, though not much time, to change course. We need a new direction - and that requires a new president.
Based on a lifetime in the private sector, as head of the Olympics and as a governor, I know how to fix things that are broken and turn institutions around. I have a five-point plan that will put America back on the path of economic growth and fiscal responsibility.
Part one will bring us to North American energy independence by 2020. Part two will open new markets for American goods and ensure that we trade on a level playing field; the days of China's cheating will be numbered. Part three will transform our educational system so that Americans can gain the skills required for success in the 21st century. Part four will cut the deficit, get the national debt under control and pare back our overgrown federal government. Part five will empower small business, the central engine of job creation in this country.
Real jobs, real growth
During my presidency, America will create 12 million new jobs, raise take-home pay and get the economy growing at an average rate of 4% a year, more than double this year's rate.
Animating these policies is an unshakable commitment to help improve individual American lives - the unemployed single mother, the struggling middle-class family, the wounded veteran, the senior citizen who relies on Medicare.
But it's the nature of our political system that we can't achieve large and lasting change unless people in Washington put aside pettiness and bickering and work together. That is one of the largest failures of the past four years. As governor of Massachusetts, I worked with a legislature that was 85% Democratic to implement good ideas. And what I did for Massachusetts, I will do for America. I'll work with Republicans and Democrats to advance reforms that meet the challenges of our time.
On Nov. 6, we can begin to build shared prosperity that touches every corner of our country. We can experience unity as a nation. And we can begin to write great new chapters in the American story.
I'm prepared for this moment, and I am ready to lead this nation. But I need your vote, because there is an economy to revive, and dreams to build, and great work to be done.
By Mitt Romney