Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney launched a multistate bus tour through small-town America on Friday, charging that President Obama hasn't given the middle class "a fair shot."
The tour, unusual for Romney, marked an attempt to upend Obama's core argument against his challenger: that the Republican is disconnected from the ordinary folks he aims to lead.
The five-day, six-day excursion by bus -- as well as airplane -- comes after Romney spent the past few weeks courting wealthy donors and raising millions of dollars to fund his presidential ambitions.
"If there's ever been a president who has not given a fair shot to the middle-income Americans of this great nation, it is Barack Obama," Romney declared from a makeshift podium during an "ice cream social" in Milford's town square. "I understand what it takes to get people to work again. I will do that to help the American people from the richest to the poorest and everybody in between."
The tour is aimed at a segment of America he has little direct experience with. The son of a governor, Romney has lived largely in upscale suburban settings and is worth as much as $250 million.
Democrats lashed out at Romney's message on multiple fronts, including in the skies above his two New Hampshire bus stops. One small plane towed a banner that said: "Romney's Every Millionaire Counts Tour," while another hired by the Romney campaign towed a competing message: "Romney for president -- 2012."
A team of Democratic mayors also charged that the Republican's business career and term as Massachusetts governor was defined by efforts to help the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.
"This 'middle class under the bus tour' is going to give us a chance to highlight those differences," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told reporters during a conference call organized by the Obama campaign.
Speaking earlier Friday at the New Hampshire farm where he launched his campaign a year ago, Romney told supporters they don't have to "settle for these years of disappointment and decline." He promised a revived America.
Americans are "worried and anxious. They are tired of being tired. And they are tired of a detached and distant president who never seems to hear their voices," Romney said.
Blake Williams, 26, an automation engineer from nearby Saco, Maine, suggested that Romney's long career in business can make it difficult for him to connect with middle-class people. But he said that won't affect his vote.
"We need somebody to get the job done, not charm people," Williams said as he waited to shake Romney's hand at the farm.