(CBS News) ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- As he made his final pre-Super Tuesday pitch to voters, Mitt Romney on Monday stressed that in the face of improving U.S. economic numbers, he remains convinced that issue gives him the best chance in a potential general-election matchup with President Obama.
"I think as long as we're talking about the economy and jobs, and, by the way, shrinking the deficit, we're winning," Romney said on CNBC's Kudlow Report. "When we're talking about all other sorts of issues that come up, all of these extraneous ideas, that puts us behind. Focus on the economy -- that's where the president has failed the American people, and they know it."
Romney downplayed the reports of recent economic growth and recovery, saying that an 8 percent jobless rate "is not the new normal. I mean, this president has a long way to go to be able to deliver on the promises that the American people expect. Incomes have not risen. Gasoline prices are high. The idea that everything's fine out there in America comes from people who are detached from America."Special Section: Campaign 2012
Romney also told host Larry Kudlow that he rejects the perception the intraparty squabbling among GOP presidential candidates has weakened party, saying that it has made him more able to challenge Obama.
"I anticipate that I'm going to be more able to debate, in the public square, Barack Obama, to point out why he's failed, to defend the policies that I have," he said. "I've also seen some of the, I'll say, less than accurate attacks and charges against me. I've been able to fend those off. I know where they're going to come from when the Obama machine turns it on with a billion dollars of spending. I'm more ready to go after the president than I was when I got started."
Romney put his focus on the economy into action at speeches and town halls across Ohio on Monday. Starting his morning at a factory in Canton, he explained that during his time in the private sector, he succeeded by focusing.
"When our president came into office there was one key job in front of him; and that was to get this economy going and put people back to work," he said. "But instead of focusing his energy on that topic, he instead went off on a whole series of other things he wanted to do."
Romney continued, "One of the reasons we're having such difficulty coming out of the downturn we're in is because the president has failed to focus on what was most important to America, which is getting good jobs again."
Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's senior advisor, told reporters the former Massachusetts governor has not been "like other candidates who get distracted by non-economic issues. He stays focused on the economy, and I think that, more than anything else, explains why he's surging" in recent polls.