Romney: Election about "big change," urges Ohioans to "vote early"

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at Jet Machine, which supplies components for the defense, aerospace, and oil and gas industry, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, in Cincinnati, Ohio. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

An energized Mitt Romney rallied his supporters in Cincinnati today, telling them that the election has suddenly become a "change" election.

The Republican presidential candidate used the term "change" no fewer than six times through out his campaign speech. "I commit to you, we will bring big change... to Washington to get this country back on track," Romney espoused.

Invoking themes President Obama used during his 2008 campaign, Romney said, "This election is not about me. It's not about the Republican Party. It's about America. It's about your family," he said.

Romney said people have the option to stay on the "same path" of a slow recovery or choose a new direction. He slammed Mr. Obama, accusing him of not having a plan to create jobs other than through stimulus funding and tax increases. Romney, meanwhile, promised fewer regulations, lower taxes, school vouchers and military growth.

He vowed to "build stronger families, a stronger economy and a military so strong" that no one would think of threatening the U.S.

His late-morning speech at defense manufacturing company Jet Machine was Romney's first of three stops in Ohio today. He'll also spend the day there tomorrow campaigning with running mate Paul Ryan.

This is all time well spent as no Republican candidate has won the presidency without winning the Buckeye State. Of course, it is mathematically possible for Romney to win without Ohio but the path to 270 electoral votes is much more difficult without it.

"We need to be sure Ohio sends a message loud and clear," Romney said.

As both candidates shift into the final stages of the campaign, they're stressing early voting throughout their stump speeches. Today, Romney emphasized that supporters should "vote early" and "find some people and bring them to the polls."

Giving Romney additional momentum, the campaign also announced Thursday a major fundraising haul, raising $111.8 million in the first half of October.

The Obama campaign reacted to Romney's change mantra invoking the Indiana GOP Senate candidate whose answer to a question about abortion restrictions created controversy earlier this week.

"Here's the 'big change' Mitt Romney is offering: going back to the same failed policies that caused the economic crisis and empowering the extreme voices in his party like Richard Mourdock," spokeswoman Lis Smith wrote in an emailed statement. "Americans recognize that we can't afford to raise taxes on the middle class to give tax breaks to the richest Americans and let Wall Street write its own rules again,"

CBS News' Sarah Huisenga contributed to this report

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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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