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Romney Starts The Clock On The General Election

Nomination almost certainly in hand, the presumptive nominee makes his final pivot. But Obama, the orator, is a tough act to follow.

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"In 222 days, something pretty extraordinary is going to happen in the country," former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney opened today at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisc., starting the clock ticking on the road to November 6th.

Romney, who has tried for months to put an end to the Republican primary, has won over his party's elders and the conventional wisdom — and now it's time to pivot one final time to the general election.

In a broadly revised stump speech, Romney recounted a litany of economic statistics under President Barack Obama's leadership, from high unemployment to home foreclosures.

"These troubling facts are President’s Obama’s legacy and now our shared history," Romney said, launching into a reading of the bad things that happen under "Barack Obama’s Government-Centered Society."

"[U]nder Barack Obama, America hasn’t been working," Romney said, launching into one of his most pointed critiques yet of Obama's record and qualifications. "The ironic tragedy is that the community organizer who wanted to help those hurt by a plant closing became the President on whose watch more jobs were lost than any time since the Great Depression."

Romney offered a promise that his election will bring about a new period of hope for the country — a message he's sharpened now that he is the presumptive nominee of his party.

"Join me in the next step toward that destination of November 6th, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept — the dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can be dusted off, and we can start again," Romney said.

But speaking less than an hour after President Barack Obama finished an energetic campaign rally at the University of Vermont, Romney's speech but the differences between the two candidates in stark relief.

Romney's speech was perhaps the most passionate he has delivered this cycle, crisply delivering his lines off the teleprompter; but still was no match for Obama's, which had the crowd shouting and screaming like no time since 2008 — asserting that he has kept his promises to his supporters.

“I promise you change will come. We will finish what we started in 2008. Fight with me,” Obama said over the roaring audience at a campaign fundraiser as he implored them to devote their time and money to his reelection effort.