"I thought for sure there was a typo when I read that, so I pulled out the transcript," McDonnell said.

He also told Romney he appreciated his "focus on middle class families, because that's the group that's suffered the most during the Obama years." In remarks earlier in the day in Colorado, Romney outlined a new stump speech oriented around a five-point plan he argues would help middle class families. Obama, meanwhile, released a new ad Thursday arguing Romney's plan would increase tax burdens on all but the most wealthy Americans.

Jindal, speaking immediately before McDonnell, discussed how the country faced "focus on middle class families, because that's the group that's suffered the most during the Obama years." Citing his work in Louisiana, Jindal said he was excited by Romney's plan to block grant education funding to the states.

"Gov. Romney is going to be and must be our next president because our children only get one chance to grow up," Jindal said.

The forum also featured Romney's former rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who gave an impassioned defense of Romney's candidacy.

"The difference between the current president of the United States and the next president of the United States is this man trusts you," Romney said. "Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama‘Family Guy’ says it will stop making jokes about gay people Selling policy to the cord-cutting generation RealClearPolitics editor says Trump needs to compromise on border to shift public opinion MORE does not trust you. Je does not trust you to make decisions about your health care, he does not trust you to make decisions about your children's education, and he does not trust you to make decisions about your energy policy."

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez heralded Romney's education policy, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin praised Romney's plan to reduce the debt, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert championed Romney's experience helming the Salt Lake City Olympics, and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said the Republican nominee "recognizes what the heartland is all about."

Also in attendance: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, whose controversial push for legislation expanding police abilities to question immigration status has been an electoral liability for Romney among some Hispanic voters, and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, an early ally of Romney's from his primary campaign in her state.

Haley cited her parents, who are immigrants from India, to again hammer the president's remarks on the role of government in business.

"Don't tell me they didn't build that, because they did," Haley said. "95 percent of our economy is small businesses; if we don't take care of small businesses we're not taking care of anything."

Closing duties were given to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who demanded an apology from Obama for the mounting federal deficit.

"I hope he's going to apologize to all of us for failing to stand up," Christie said.

The New Jersey governor, playing off Obama's 2008 campaign slogans, also blasted the president for providing "false hope for the last four years. False hope that led to bad change."

And he accused Obama of a deficit of leadership.

"The president has been like a man walking around in a dark room looking for the light switch of leadership - he hasn't found it yet," Christie said.

Romney concluded the event with brief remarks, but made not even a subtle mention of the fact that his eventual running mate could be on the stage. Instead, he returned to an abbreviated version of his standard stump speech, promising that voters would soon "see America roaring back."

"It's gonna be good to be middle class in America again, we're going to restore our land of opportunity," Romney said.