U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called for "bold changes" to fix the nation's economy in what his aides have described as his "closing argument."
Speaking in the battleground state of Iowa, Romney criticized his opponent, President Barack Obama, saying there is nothing in what the president proposed during the candidates' three debates that has any prospect of meeting "the challenges of the times."
"The problem with the Obama economy is not what he inherited, it's with the misguided policies that slowed the recovery and caused millions of Americans to endure lengthy unemployment and poverty."
The U.S. government reported Friday that the economy grew by 2 percent in the July-to-September period, a slightly faster pace than economists had projected. It said that increased consumer spending, accounting for 70 percent of the world's largest economy, led the advance. American economists had projected growth of 1.8 percent in the third quarter, up from the 1.3 percent figure recorded in April, May and June.
The head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Alan Krueger, said Friday's report provided "further evidence that the economy is moving in the right direction," adding that there is "more work to do."
Romney called the report "the latest round of discouraging economic news," though, saying four years of the president's policies had produced "slow job growth and declining take-home pay."
Obama, for his part, has criticized Romney's prescription for the economy, calling it a "sketchy deal" and saying it will add trillions of dollars to the debt.
As Romney delivered his economic speech Friday, Obama took a break from the campaign trail after a 40-hour campaign blitz across the country. He was spending most of the day at the White House, participating in several media interviews.
Polls have shown the presidential race virtually tied as the campaign enters its final stage before the November 6 election.
On Thursday, Obama became the first ever U.S. president to cast an early ballot in a presidential election. Obama voted Thursday afternoon at the Chicago, Illinois, polling place where he is a registered voter.
The president also received the endorsement of former secretary of state Colin Powell, who praised Obama's policies in managing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Powell, a Republican, also backed Obama, a Democrat, in 2008.
A co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign, John Sununu, received criticism Thursday after suggesting on CNN that Powell's endorsement of Obama was based on race, since both men are African Americans.
Sununu, a former White House chief of staff under President George W. Bush, later backtracked, saying in a statement that Powell was a friend and he believed the endorsement was based on his support for the president's policies.