ST. LOUIS -- Mitt Romney came to Missouri Thursday to make what a campaign spokeswoman called "the moral case" for capitalism, but he also ripped into President Obama in ethical terms.
"I will not be that president of doubt and deception," Romney said. "I will lead us to a better place."
Romney's 20-minute speech, aided by a teleprompter and part of an attempt to build a lyrical and philosophical case for his candidacy, had all the markings of a campaign with momentum.
A few hundred supporters cheered Romney with enthusiasm when he was first introduced, and punctuated his remarks numerous times with applause. It was, to this reporter and others, one of the more enthusiastic crowds Romney has had this entire year.
The former Massachusetts governor was buoyed by his impressive fundraising haul in the month of May. His campaign announced earlier in the day that he and the Republican National Committee had together outraised the Obama campaign by some $17.6 million, taking in almost $77 million to Obama and the Democratic National Committee's roughly $60 million.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said that the campaign's fundraising has been bolstered by giving from across the political spectrum.
"We're not limited to just Republican donors. We've raised money from Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike, not to mention former Obama supporters," Saul said.
Saul cited Dan Loeb and Susan Crown as two prominent donors who gave to Obama four years ago and are now supporting Romney.
And the victory of Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall Tuesday is another boost of energy for conservatives this week. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign is still trying to deal with repeated jumps off script by prominent surrogates such as former President Bill Clinton and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who Thursday morning said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would have been better than Obama at dealing with Congress if she were president.
Romney, who has improved as a public speaker even since the primary and is noticeably more comfortable as a candidate than he was this winter, issued a series of forceful denunciations of the sitting president.
"It’s painfully obvious that this inexperienced president was simply not up to the task of solving a great economic crisis," Romney said at a warehouse housing chemical and biological warfare protection equipment, owned by a company called Production Products.
Romney said Obama's policies have been "muddled, confused and simply ineffective" and that the president has moved the country away from a market-driven economy toward "a government-run economy," calling the outcome "a moral failure of tragic proportions."
"These have been years of disappointment and decline and we're about ready to put them behind us. I'm absolutely convinced that we can prosper again," Romney said.
After his speech, Romney met, as he almost always does at campaign stops, with a round table of eight or so business owners from the area.
Missouri is ostensibly a swing state in this fall's election, at least judging by some analysts' maps. For example, Republican strategist Karl Rove's map has Missouri as a "tossup."
But Rove, in an e-mail, said polls listing the state as close are "very old."
"It will not be in play," Rove told The Huffington Post.
The Obama campaign lists Missouri as leaning toward Romney on their map, and has not put any resources toward TV commercials as of yet, though they do have field offices in St. Louis and Kansas City.
Missouri went for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and Obama lost it in 2008 by less than 4,000 votes. But in an election expected to be much closer than four years ago, it looks likely that Missouri will be in the Republican column this fall.
Nonetheless, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman Brittany Burke argued that Romney's trip to the state was a sign that the presumptive Republican nominee thinks it is in play.
"The bottom line is that Mitt Romney wouldn't be campaigning in Missouri if he didn't think he was in trouble here," Burke told HuffPost.
Romney was scheduled to hold a fundraiser downtown in St. Louis on Thursday evening before campaigning in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Friday.
This article has been updated.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Obama won Missouri in 2008. Obama lost the state by less than 4,000 votes.