The reprieve from partisan sniping between the presidential candidates during Hurricane Sandy ended on Thursday, as Mitt Romney gave a barn-burner stump speech to a crowd in Roanoke, Va., and President Barack Obama responded shortly after in Green Bay, Wis.

The Romney campaign had suggested on Wednesday night that the candidate would stay above the fray during the final stretch of the campaign, presenting a vision for his first term in office that matched the more serious tone of the past few days. That vision was offered on Thursday, but accompanying it was a slew of well-rehearsed attack lines, as well as some new ones.

Do you want four more years like the last four years? Do you want four more years where 23 million Americans are struggling to have a good job? Do you want four more years where earnings are going down every year? Do you want four more years of trillion-dollar deficits in Washington? How about four more years of gridlock in Washington? There's no question in my view that we really can't have four more years like the last four years. I know the Obama folks are chanting four more years, four more years, but our chant is this -- five more days, five more days. That's our chant.

You know, we're going to have to come up with a better slogan tomorrow, or a different one at least. I know the president's been trying to figure out some way to suggest he's got some new ideas. Because with all these people out of work, with three million more women in poverty today than when he took office, with 15 million more people on food stamps than when he took office, he's got to find something to suggest it's going to be better over the next four years. And so he came up with an idea last week, which is he's going to create the Department of Business. I don't think adding a new chair in his cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street.

I mean, unfortunately what you've seen before your very eyes is a campaign that keeps on shrinking and shrinking and shrinking to smaller things. He's been out talking about how he's going to save Big Bird and then playing silly word games with my last name, or first, and then attacking me day in and day out. Attacking me doesn't make an agenda, doesn't get people back to work. We don't need the Secretary of Business to understand business. We need a president who understands business, and I do. That's why I'll help get this economy going.

Obama suggested creating a Secretary of Business during a recent interview with MSNBC, though the concept has been floated for years. It wouldn't result in an expansion of government bureaucracy, as Romney suggested, but rather a consolidation of it.

"I’ve said that I want to consolidate a whole bunch of government agencies," Obama said during the interview. "We should have one secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to [the Small Business Administration] or helping companies with exports."

Regardless, the Romney campaign released a new ad on Wednesday slamming Obama for the proposal.

An hour after Romney finished his address, the president fired back. In his first campaign speech following his tour of the hurricane's damage in New Jersey, he pitched himself as the candidate of change while lambasting his opponent as nothing more than an adept salesman. From his speech in Green Bay:

Now, in the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up these very same policies that failed our country so badly, the very same policies we've been cleaning up after for past four years. And he's offering them up as change. He's saying he's the candidate of change.

Well, let me tell you, Wisconsin, we know what change looks like. And what the governor's offering sure ain't change. Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn't change. Leaving millions without health insurance isn't change. Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy isn't change. Turning Medicare into a voucher is change, but we don't want that change. Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies isn't change. Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber stamp the Tea Party's agenda as president, that's definitely not change. In fact, that's exactly the attitude in Washington that needs to go.

This article was updated to include remarks from the president.

Also on HuffPost:

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  • President Barack Obama

    In a hastily organized press briefing at the White House, Obama said Monday that his race with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is the furthest thing from his mind as the East Coast braces for what could be its worst storm in history. "I am not worried at this point about the impact on the election. I am worried about the impact on families. I am worried about the impact on our first responders," he said. "The election will take care of itself next week." ... He also sent out a campaign email on Monday urging supporters to heed advice from local authorities and extending an early thank you to first responders. “Michelle and I are keeping everyone in the affected areas in our thoughts and prayers. Be safe,” reads the email, signed by Obama. -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-obama_n_2042403.html?1351610452">HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery and Lynne Peeples </a></em>

  • Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

    Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took a moment in an overflow room ahead of a campaign rally Monday to express his concern for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy and encourage the people of Ohio to do what they could to help those out east. “I want to mention that our hearts and prayers are with all the people in the storm's path," he said in Avon Lake, Ohio. "Sandy is another devastating hurricane by all accounts, and a lot of people are going to be facing some real tough times as a result of Sandy's fury." He went on to encourage those who can afford it to make a donation to the Red Cross. "If there are other ways that you can help, please take advantage of them because there will be a lot of people that are going to be looking for help and the people in Ohio have big hearts, so we're expecting you to follow through and help out," he said. Romney concluded the rally by echoing his comments from the overflow room. "This looks like another time we all need to come together," he said. -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/mitt-romney-hurricane-sandy_n_2039620.html?1351610466">HuffPost's Elise Foley</a></em>

  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) continued his praise of President Barack Obama's work responding to Hurricane Sandy, using a press briefing Monday evening to note that he appreciated the "leadership" Obama was showing in the emergency. Christie, a prominent surrogate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said that he and Obama had a private phone conversation on Monday to discuss how the federal government could help New Jersey. He said that Obama told Christie that he could call him directly over the next 48 hours if the state government had issues with federal response to the hurricane in New Jersey. “I appreciate that type of leadership," Christie said of Obama. The Republican governor said most of the call centered on Obama's concern for New Jersey and then he continued to heap praise on the president, saying Obama's work has been "proactive." Christie shortened a campaign trip for Romney to return to New Jersey to handle the storm response. Christie started his praise of Obama during press briefings on Sunday, when he said "appreciated" Obama's outreach to him and the governors of other states being impacted by Hurricane Sandy. During a press briefing on Monday afternoon, Christie described another call he had with Obama and said that the president and his aides have been working to benefit New Jersey. “We appreciate the president’s efforts in that regard," Christie said earlier Monday. "He and his staff worked tremendously hard.” -- <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/chris-christie-sandy-obama_n_2041673.html">HuffPost's John Celock</a></em>

  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

  • Newark Mayor Cory Booker

  • Former Vice President Al Gore

    This week, our nation has anxiously watched as Hurricane Sandy lashed the East Coast and caused widespread damage--affecting millions. Now more than ever, our neighbors need our help. Please consider donating or volunteering for your local aid organizations. The images of Sandy’s flooding brought back memories of a similar--albeit smaller scale-- event in Nashville just two years ago. There, unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding, wreaking havoc and submerging sections of my hometown. For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis—which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality. While the storm that drenched Nashville was not a tropical cyclone like Hurricane Sandy, both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis. Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful. Hurricane Sandy, and the Nashville flood, were reminders of just that. Other climate-related catastrophes around the world have carried the same message to hundreds of millions. Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis. As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy's storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse. Hurricane Sandy is a disturbing sign of things to come. We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

    "Our thoughts and prayers rest with the families, friends, and loved ones of all those who have lost their lives in the course of Hurricane Sandy, and our hearts go out to the millions of Americans waking up to destruction and devastation in their homes and communities today. "We are all grateful to the rescue workers and first responders working around-the-clock to save lives, restore power, and deal with the immediate aftermath of the storm. Federal, state, and local authorities have worked hand-in-hand to prepare for and respond to this natural disaster, and we will continue to do so as Americans begin to take stock of the damage, recover, and rebuild. "All Members of Congress stand ready to offer our aid and assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. As we have done in the past, the American people will stand united to confront the impact of this storm and start the work of recovery."

  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)

  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)

  • Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

  • Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

  • Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.)

  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)

  • Rep. Steve Austria (R-Ohio)

  • Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.)

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

    “Hurricane Sandy hit New York and the Northeast hard last night and will complicate life in our region for the coming days. I am astounded at what I have seen in my own congressional district: flooding throughout Coney Island, Battery Park City, and other areas; widespread power outages; felled trees everywhere you look; and some very tragic fatalities. I am grateful to our local responders and laborers, who are doing a tremendous job on emergency response. And, through the President’s declaration of New York as a major disaster area, we will be able to immediately allocate FEMA funds to begin to repair the billions of dollars in damage locally and bring relief to New Yorkers whose lives have been turned upside down.”