The former Massachusetts governor told a packed house Saturday at Family Table Restaurant, in Le Mars, it's also an election to "save the soul of America."
Romney said the American people will decide whether they are willing to go further down a path to becoming a European welfare state or remain a free nation filled with opportunity.
"I know what will happen if we continue along with President (Barack) Obama and his policies, you'll see government get bigger and our debts will get more and more immense," Romney said.
Instead, Romney said he wants to restore America to the principles it was built on, thereby jump starting the economy.
"I'm going to make sure this is the best place in the world to be middle class," Romney said. "I want to have every parent in this country have a conviction that the future for their kids is brighter even than the years they've enjoyed themselves."
Romney said he will do that by balancing the federal budget, stopping spending and making America the best place for entrepreneurs, Romney said.
A man in the audience asked Romney what his plan is for paying off the national debt, noting it currently stands at about $1.5 trillion with Obama considering another $1.2 trillion.
"I feel like balancing the budget is a great first step, but we need to stop the bleeding train," the man said.
Romney said he will balance the budget and repay the national debt by cutting back on federal government and economizing what remains.
That would entail cutting government programs that are not absolutely critical with the deciding factor being if it's worth borrowing money to pay for it, Romney said.
He said he would also modify federal programs such as job training and Medicare by giving more responsibility to states.
"There are 47 different job training programs administered by eight different federal agencies," Romney said. "I'm going to take all those programs and consolidate them into one and send those dollars back to the state for states to administer their own job training programs."
Romney said he would economize the remaining government by doing things such as cutting federal employment by 10 percent through attrition and linking federal workers' pay rates with those in the private sector, Romney said.
"That saves about $47 billion a year in economizing," he said. "By doing those things you finally break down government spending."
As a businessman for the past 25 years, Romney said he understands more dollars can't be spent than what is coming in.
"We have to bring that kind of thinking to Washington," he said. "I will not consistently put America on the track of growth of our deficit."
Along with the national debt, Romney also told a woman in the audience Saturday he would veto the Dream Act, a bill that would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who meet specified conditions.
"If I'm the president of the United States, I want to end illegal immigration so that we can protect legal immigration," Romney said. "I like legal immigration."
His plan would be to secure the border with a fence and employ enough patrol agents to secure it, Romney said.
"I will also crack down on employers who hire people who are here illegally," he said.
Along with answering adults' questions Saturday, Romney also shared his thoughts about how to help children with a 9-year-old boy.
"The Centers for Disease Control says that one in five American children has a learning disability today, mine is autism," the child said. "What's happening to America's most precious resource, their children? What do you plan to do about it?"
Romney said he thinks one of the areas federal dollars are spent wisely is research and science.
"That's where we think we can make a difference in the lives of our citizens to cure disease and to cure conditions that cause disabilities and at the same time create new science that opens up new enterprises for our economy," Romney said.
He said he would continue funding those types of federal programs, making decisions based on where the people see a need as opposed to where a politician sees the need.
"I will make sure where we spend our funds and we will spend them for health, science and research," Romney said. "I will make sure we spend based upon need not based upon politics."