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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney greets supporters at Thursday's campaign stop at Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.
Supporters hold American flags as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves from his bus.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at the Farm Bureau Center in the Meadow Event Park
With just days to go before the election, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a stop in Caroline County, rallying several-thousand supporters in a critical swing state for him.
The stop at the Meadow Event Park near Kings Dominion was one of three Romney made in Virginia on Thursday.
Romney urged the audience to think of those affected by Hurricane Sandy this week, and to help if possible.
"It's part of who we are as Americans to step forward when others need our help," he said.
But this was clearly a campaign rally, unlike events Romney had earlier this week right after the hurricane. He had suspended campaigning for a day or two at the height of the massive East Coast storm.
At the Caroline rally, Romney said he has a better plan to revive the economy than President Barack Obama, whom he accused of proposing "more of the same."
"We need a president who understands business," he said. "Attacking me does not create an agenda for him. We actually have a plan to get this economy going."
Romney said he would expand domestic energy production, which he said would help manufacturing and thus other industries.
He also said he would open new trade markets, particularly in Latin America, and punish those that disregard trade protections.
"If nations steal jobs by not playing by the rules, we hold them accountable," Romney said. "That's what I'll do with China."
Romney talked about education and said he supports teachers but that "the teachers union is going to have to go behind," which drew cheers.
The crowd also approved Romney's promise to reduce the federal debt and deficit.
He vowed that he wouldn't raise taxes on small businesses nor the middle class, but would eliminate Obama's Affordable Care Act.
On the way to Caroline, Romney stopped at a Bill's Barbecue restaurant location on the Boulevard in Richmond. Bill's announced last month it was closing after 82 years, citing the poor economy.
Romney released a Web ad on Thursday that blamed the closure on Obama's presidency.
"What happened?" Romney asked Rhoda Elliott, niece of the restaurant's founder, at the closed restaurant Thursday.
Elliott told Romney that the restaurant rode out past recessions. But the economy, taxes and regulations on food service--which she said cost "thousands" of dollars to comply with--were too much.
"We usually fare pretty good" in down economies, Elliott said. "But this one lasted so long. Things just got rougher and rougher."
Romney flew to Richmond from Roanoke and then drove to a rally in Virginia Beach. His decision to spend a day in Virginia just days before the election reflects what a swing state Virginia is--polls suggest it's a very close race here.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate George Allen joined Romney on his tour, and Gov. Bob McDonnell, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor and others spoke at the Caroline rally.
Romney isn't the only candidate wooing Virginians in the last days. His vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is scheduled to hold a rally in Richmond Saturday, and Obama is scheduled to have an event at Jiffy Lube Live in Prince William County Saturday night with former President Bill Clinton and musician Dave Matthews.
"This is a critical time for us," Romney said. "I know the people of Virginia have very clear eyes. You can see the consequence of this election. I know as Americans you have full hearts. I'm convinced that we're going to come together."
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028