ROANOKE, Virginia (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney returned to campaign attacks against President Barack Obama on Thursday after a pause for the storm Sandy, hitting the Democrat for proposing more government bureaucracy.
Romney swept into must-win Virginia looking to increase turnout among Republican voters in a conservative area of the state to help offset the Democrats’ advantage the northern area. Virginia went for Obama in 2008 but may flip for the Republican this year.
“Turnout here makes a big difference,” Romney told a crowd gathered inside a window and door factory.
With the race too close to call in the final five days before Tuesday’s election, Romney is engaged in a frenzy of campaigning in battleground states that will likely decide the race.
The former governor of Massachusetts had not mentioned Obama’s name in two days of events this week as he toned down campaign rhetoric while Americans along the East Coast reeled from the superstorm Sandy.
But with the recovery now under way, Romney resumed his standard campaign fare of singling out the president for criticism.
He leaped on a comment that Obama made in an interview aired by MSNBC on Monday in which the president said he would like to create a new government agency headed by a ”secretary of business’ to try to help businesses create jobs.
“I’ve said that I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies. We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA (the Small Business Administration) or helping companies with exports,” Obama had said.
This comment bolstered Romney’s charge that the president wants to expand government rather than boost the private sector.
“I don’t think adding a new chair to his cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street,” Romney said.
Romney’s schedule in the coming days is a mix of travel in swing states and at least one effort to expand his campaign into Wisconsin, a state that has gone Democratic the last several elections.
He is to travel to Wisconsin on Friday and then visit Ohio, a state a Republican candidate normally has to win in order to take the White House.
He also has weekend plans to visit New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada in the battle to put together the 270 electoral votes that are needed for election.
Editing by Alistair Bell and Vicki Allen