TAMPA -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney kicked off the final week of his campaign with a stop in Tampa on Wednesday, calling on voters to take "a different course" and elect him Nov. 6.
The former Massachusetts governor appeared at Landmark Aviation, overlooking Tampa International Airport, before heading to other parts of Florida later in the day.
Hundreds, some in costume in honor of Halloween, were lined up in perfect weather to hear Romney speak.
Romney was accompanied by a trio of popular Florida Republicans: former Gov. Jeb Bush; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; and U.S. Senate nominee U.S Rep. Connie Mack IV.
Saying it's time for America to take a different course, Romney pledged he would bring "real change" if he is elected president.
The former Massachusetts governor noted that 23 million people are struggling to find a good job; half of the students coming out of college can't find work; one in six Americans are living in poverty, and 47 million people are on food stamps.
"So, I believe that this is the year for us to take a different course," Romney told the cheering crowd.
At one point, Romney struck a bipartisan note by calling for "reaching across the aisle" to get things done.
His experience in Massachusetts had impressed upon him the need to put aside partisan politics following the election in order to do the people's business, he said. Such cooperation "has to happen in Washington."
"We've got to do better," he said.
In response to Romney's remarks, Obama for America spokeswoman Lis Smith said, "Mitt Romney made a lot of promises in Tampa about bringing change, but we know that we can't trust a word he says."
She accused him of "running on outright falsehoods in the closing days of this campaign."
"If the American people can't trust his words on the campaign trail, they certainly could never trust him with the presidency," Smith said.
Among those at the GOP rally was Ron Griffith, 71, president of the Heritage Springs Republican Club. He came with women who spelled "R-O-M-N-E-Y" out in red-and-white clothing.
"We've been waiting for this for four years," said Griffith. "If he doesn't win, we'll move to Canada. We want a leader. Obama has been doing nothing but campaigning for four years."
Also in the crowd was Robert Rezabek, 16, a junior at Seminole High School, near Tampa.
With his very conservative family, he said, he has seen Romney plenty on television, but he wanted to see him in person.
Wednesday's event was his first political rally, he said.
Rezabek said he favors Romney partly for moral reasons, citing as an example that President Obama wants Catholic hospitals to perform procedures that are against their morals, "taking away their religious freedom."
Also in the crowd was Lynn Kus, 38, of Tampa, a grocery store assistant manager, who was at the rally with her 1-year-old son.
"I believe it's time for a change, time for everybody to be prosperous again," she said.
"We need to get out of this hole this president has dug for us."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.