Appearing in Orange City, Iowa, Romney highlighted the video shown on opening night in Charlotte that stated "Government is the only thing that we all belong to." After conservative commentators castigated the message, the Obama campaign disavowed it, saying that the video was produced by the city's host committee.
"Boy, they sure got that one wrong, didn't they?" Romney asked a crowd of more than 2,000 people gathered in a college gymnasium in northwest Iowa who cheered their agreement.
Romney used the example to make his case for a limited government that answers to the people. "The government belongs to us," he said. "We value the government we have, and we pay for it too. It ain't free."
In a swing state further west, Ryan told a group of 1,500 voters in Reno, Nev., that the root of Obama's problems lay in his policies, not his personality.
"President Obama is not a bad guy. He's good at giving great speeches, he's just really bad at creating jobs," said Ryan, who was raising money in Los Angeles as the president spoke on Thursday evening. "Here's the problem, when you think that the road to success and prosperity is more borrowing, more spending, more taxing, more regulating, a government-centered society with a government run economy these are the kinds of results we will get. And if we want the next four years to be any different than the last four years, we need a new president."
The Obama camp responded by saying Romney's economic plans would make America weaker. "He would give budget-busting tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans paid for by raising taxes on the middle class, make deep cuts to critical investments like education, and turn Medicare into a voucher program," said Obama for America spokeswoman Lis Smith in an emailed statement.
Smith also went after Ryan's factual accuracy, saying his speech "followed a similar and troubling pattern of misrepresenting both the president's and Mitt Romney's records." She cited Ryan's statement that Obama oversaw the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, which the rating agency Standard & Poor's said was due in part to political posturing by House Republicans.
Obama wasn't the only Democrat in Ryan's crosshairs on Friday. He elicited a round of boos from the crowd when he asked if they knew Reid, Nevada's senator, whom Ryan faults for leading a body that hasn't passed a budget in three years.
Romney's trip to Orange City was his first to the far northwest corner of the Hawkeye State, an area that voted overwhelmingly for Rick Santorum in the primary and has been somewhat slow to warm to the Republican nominee. He was joined at the event by Iowa's governor, Terry Branstad, and Rep. Steve King, an outspoken conservative who is a popular target for liberals. King has drawn fire for comparing immigration to the process of selecting a good bird dog and recently raised eyebrows for saying he said he was unaware of any victims of statutory rape or incest becoming pregnant, but was "open to discussion" on the topic
King, who did not endorse a candidate in the run up to the Iowa primary, is in a tight race for re-election this year against the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor. Romney called on the crowd to return the controversial congressman to Capitol Hill, saying, "I wanna make sure he's in Washington when I get there so we can do the things we're promising doing."
The endorsement of King quickly caught the attention of the Obama campaign, with top strategist David Axelrod calling the congressman "Mitt's governing partner" in a tweet after the event.