DES MOINES, IOWA - Mitt Romney doubled down on his welfare attack against President Obama on Wednesday, and outlined his five-point plan to help the middle class.
But what was most notable was what he didn't talk about -- his opposition to a wind energy tax credit that is roiling Republicans in Iowa, a leading producer of wind power.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, as well as other top GOP politicians, has offered harsh words for the presumptive Republican nominee's position, with Branstad telling Radio Iowa that Romney's position was shaped by a "bunch of East Coast people that need to get out here in the real world to find out what's really going on."
Branstad, an honorary co-chairman of Romney's Iowa effort, did not attend the rally in Des Moines on Wednesday or a fundraiser Tuesday. His staff said he had previous commitments. But Branstad said he planned to press the matter with Romney. He said, "Remember, the wind energy tax credit [was proposed] by [Republican Iowa] Sen. [Charles] Grassley and way preceded Obama. ... We love it."
Romney was introduced by Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, who has also spoken out about Romney's position. It's unclear how much Romney's position will hurt him. Iowa is a leading wind energy producer, but the industry only employs a few thousand people. But every ballot will be critical here. Iowa only has six electoral votes, but it is a critical battleground in this election.
"Every road to the White House runs through Iowa," Latham said.
It's the state that made Obama during the 2008 caucuses, and he handily won it in the general election. But success here is far less certain this time around, which is reflected by how much time the candidates are spending here. On Monday, Obama kicks off a three-day, seven-city bus tour of Iowa.
Romney spoke glowingly about the state. He said, "Good to be back! Des Moines almost feels like a second home, you know that."
He renewed an attack that Obama was trying to remove work requirements for welfare recipients, a subject that is disputed by Democrats. And he repeated his five-point plan to help the middle class, drawing sustained applause when he pledged to get rid of Obama's signature health care reform law and to tackle the nation's deficit spending. He said, "I think it's not just bad economics; I think it's immoral."