Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney was taking a new approach to campaigning today - starting a bus trip across six key states to target undecided voters living outside America's big cities.
His advisers said he was visiting the towns President Barack Obama forgot - but in states the Democrat president won four years ago.
The former Massachusetts governor will continue his focus on the economy as he rolls through more than a dozen small cities and towns over five days on his "Every Town Counts" tour which started in New Hampshire and takes in key mid-western states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.
Mr Romney said the Obama administration was smothering "small-town dreams". He promised to scrap Mr Obama's health care law, approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and go after China for its trade policies.
"Some people will call this the back roads of America. What he believes, really, is that this is the backbone of America - this is where folks, as I said, work really hard and are really struggling," said senior adviser Russ Schriefer.
It is a new style for Mr Romney, who kept a limited public schedule over the past two months, preferring to spend much of his time fundraising for what promises to be the most expensive presidential election ever.
Mr Obama's spokeswoman Lis Smith called Mr Romney's speech "angry and empty rhetoric" which offered "zero new solutions to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class".
Both campaigns expect Mr Romney to win the majority of voters in rural small towns, which are often reliably Republican, but Mr Obama's team is trying to keep the margin as narrow as it was in 2008, when he lost rural voters by just eight percentage points to John McCain.
Mr Romney has not engaged in this kind of campaigning since the early days of the Republican primary, when he visited diners and coffee shops across Iowa and New Hampshire.
No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, which is key to the election hopes of both candidates. With less than five months remaining until the November 6 election, they are virtually tied in the polls.