Coming off his three-state sweep in Tuesday's primaries, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney this noon renewed his charge that President Obama has displayed an "appalling lack of leadership."
Romney said that if elected president he could provide the kind of experience and guidance to give the economy a lift, get the government on the path toward deficit reduction and ensure the USA continues to play a leading role around the world.
The former Massachusetts governor took to the same stage where Obama on Tuesday delivered some sharp words about Romney's and other Republicans' "social Darwinism" when it comes to deficit reduction.
We monitored Romney's speech to the American Society of News Editors, which is meeting in Washington, D.C., and posted highlights.
Update at 12:42 p.m. ET. Has He Asked Other Republicans To Drop Out?
Several of Romney's prominent supporters have called on Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul to give up their campaigns for the Republican nomination. Has Romney asked the others do that?
No he says, and then with a laugh adds "but now that you bring it up ..."
Romney goes on to say those are decisions those candidates need to make on their own.
And that concluded his time with ASNE.
Update at 12:41 p.m. ET. On Iran:
"With regards to Iran and their nuclear program," Romney says, "this is not something that can be guaranteed to be solved through diplomacy."
Update at 12:36 p.m. ET. Obama's "Anti" Agenda:
Romney says the president has produced an "anti-business, anti-jobs, anti-investment agenda."
Update at 12:31 p.m. ET. Obama Has Been Guilty Of "Distortions And Inaccuracies":
Asked about Obama's address to ASNE, Romney says it was full of "distortions and inaccuracies." One, he says, is the suggestion that Republicans would cut all programs by the same percentage. "Of course you wouldn't cut programs on a proportional basis," Romney says. That is one of several "straw men that have no relevance in reality."
Update at 12:27 p.m. ET. "New Beginning":
As he nears the finish of his address, Romney says, "I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for president because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. We know what Barack Obama's vision of America is – we've all lived it the last three years. Mine is very different. ...
"I see an America that is humble but never humbled, that leads but is never lead."
Update at 12:20 p.m. ET. "Appalling Lack Of Leadership":
Romney assails what he says is Obama's "appalling lack of leadership," saying that when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was pressed about entitlement reform, he told Congress "we are not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to that long term problem. What we do know is we don't like yours."
"Take a moment and think about that," Romney says. " 'We don't have a solution. All we know is we don't like yours.' It almost makes one long for the days when the president simply led from behind."
Update at 12:18 p.m. ET. Obama's "New Normal":
Continuing to focus on Obama and repeating many things he said after Tuesday's primaries, Romney says "the new normal the president would have us embrace is trillion dollar deficits and eight percent unemployment."
Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. What Is Obama Hiding?
Romney says that during the campaign, "candidates must be candid about their views and plans. And, in that regard, President Obama's comments to President Medvedev are deeply troubling [about missile reduction talks]. That incident calls his candor into serious question. He does not want to share his real plans before the election, either with the public or with the press. By flexibility, he means that 'what the American public doesn't know won't hurt him.' He is intent on hiding."
Update at 12:12 p.m. ET. On The Media:
Romney starts with some comments about the news media and the digital age. He says "I find myself missing the presence of editors to practice quality control" and laments that too many stories don't adhere to the "two-source rule" — and that at least one source be named.
Update at 12:10 p.m. ET. Romney Is Now On Stage.