WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney insisted Sunday that Democrat Barack Obama is a "president who is dividing America" as he kicked off a two-day campaign swing that will feature Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American Florida senator considered as a top potential choice for vice president.
"The road we're on has a president who has to recognize that he's failed," Romney told the crowd of about 200 at a Lincoln Day dinner that was scheduled before former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum dropped out of the presidential race. Pennsylvania's primary is being held Tuesday, though now the former Massachusetts governor has no serious opposition.
"This president has a road that he's traveling down where government gets larger and larger and metastasizes into every area of American life," Romney said. "If I'm president, we're not going to go down that road anymore."
Romney was riffing on words from Obama strategist David Axelrod, who last week characterized the upcoming presidential election as a choice between new policies to help the economy grow and "an economy that continues down the road we are on, where a fewer and fewer number of people do very well."
Even with Santorum out, Romney plans to keep a campaign schedule in Pennsylvania, with stops near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Monday.
Rubio, who dismissed talk about potentially joining the ticket during a Sunday interview, is set to campaign with Romney on Monday in Aston, Pa. He'll be the first on the still-long list of possible running mates to campaign with Romney since Santorum dropped out earlier this month.
Rubio refused Sunday to speculate about becoming Romney's vice presidential pick, saying that until recently the discussion has been theoretical. But now that Romney's path is clear, Rubio says, "It'd be wise for all Republicans to kind of respect that process, myself included."
A Romney spokesman refused to comment on whether Rubio's comments indicated that the Florida senator has already been included in that process.
Rubio said Sunday that Romney made good decisions in his business and political career and "he's going to make a great choice" for a running mate.
Rubio told CNN's "State of the Union" that he's not going to discuss the search any more. He says the last thing Romney needs is to have "us in the peanut gallery ... saying what we would or would not do."