Davenport, Iowa — In state after battleground state this week, Mitt Romney has made the case that he, not President Barack Obama, is best-equipped to turn around the economy.
But in several of the states that he barnstormed in his "Every Town Counts" bus tour, workers have started seeing positive economic signs, complicating Romney's argument.
At a picturesque riverside speech in Iowa on Monday, the presumptive GOP nominee said that those states' Republican governors, not the president, were responsible for positive economic indicators.
"As you look across the country, there are states like Iowa, and Tennessee, and Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, where you have some governors making tough choices," he said in Davenport.
Romney said those states' Republican governors were "holding down spending. Doing their best to make the state as attractive as they can for small business, for innovators, for job creators. And those states are seeing real progress."
The states where Romney spoke Monday -- Iowa and Wisconsin -- both enjoy lower unemployment rates than the national average. Iowa has a 5.1%, and Wisconsin a 6.8% rate of unemployment.
Early in the bus tour, a senior Republican leader in Ohio said that even states with marginally better economies were still feeling the pain of the recession a few years ago.
"People still don't feel like they have confidence in the economy, the direction of the economy," he said. "So 7.5 is better than 9.2, which is what it was even a couple years ago, but it's still not something people are satisfied with."
On Monday, Romney drew a contrast to a familiar punching bag for Republicans: California.
"Not doing so well," Romney said of the state where he owns a second home. He once suggested he might move from California to Florida, joking the Sunshine State had a better tax rate.
He tied Obama to what he suggested were the big-spending, entitlement-heavy governments of California and in Europe.
"Unfortunately, we have a president who has taken us on the course of California and Europe," Romney said.