Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said in Davenport today that the country is at a key juncture and it’s time to turn away from President Barack Obama’s policies, which he argued would lead to higher taxes and debt.

Romney had planned to go to Wisconsin tonight and back to Des Moines tomorrow for campaign stops, but those events were canceled because of Hurricane Sandy.The campaign announced before his appearance at Seven Cities Sod in northwest Davenport today that he would step off the trail as the East Coast deals with the potentially calamitous storm.

The president also has suspended campaigning. He’s returned to Washington, D.C., to monitor developments.

In a 21-minute speech here, Romney said the time had come for “big change.”

“I look at this election as a turning point,” Romney told to the crowd. “We need to take a new course, and so on day one, I’ll propose real change.”

He said he would cut the corporate tax rate and reduce individual tax rates by 20 percent.

He also said that he has a plan to improve the economy and that he would work across the aisle with Democrats to break partisan gridlock.

“There is common ground between us,” he said.

Romney was critical of the president’s record on a range of subjects. He said 23 million people are struggling to find jobs and debt is too high, and he warned that taxes on businesses and the middle class would go up if the president is re-elected.

Prior to the bulk of his remarks, the former Massachusetts governor acknowledged the difficulties faced by people on the East Coast because of the storm, and he asked the crowd for their thoughts and prayers.

An enthusiastic audience greeted Romney. “Eight more days, eight more days,” they chanted.

Anne Hawks of Maquoketa said she is confident going into the final days of the election. She said she already had cast a ballot for Romney before the first debate but it was more an anti-Obama statement. After the debate, she said she felt reassured.

“After watching that debate, we feel so much positive energy toward Romney,” said Hawks, who attended the rally with her husband, Mike.

Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, led a group of local Democrats before Romney’s appearance to counter his message. They said Romney has tried to dodge his past statements and appear more centrist than he really is.

“Throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney has shown that he will say anything to get elected,” Sagar said. “And now with only eight days left before Election Day, he is attempting to simply run out the clock by refusing to offer specific details on how his plan will actually create jobs in Iowa, and that’s unacceptable.”

Just as the president’s visit to Davenport last week came on the same day that Romney was in Cedar Rapids, first lady Michelle Obama was only 60 miles away from here today, campaigning in Iowa City. She also was going to Sioux City.

The state’s six electoral votes are being vigorously courted by both sides.

Romney was introduced at the rally in Davenport by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. University of Iowa wrestling legend Dan Gable and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also were at the rally and spoke.