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Romney Jokes He's Waiting for His Clinton 'Bounce'

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Speaking just hours before President Obama takes the same stage, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined his vision for foreign aid Tuesday at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.

The governor and former President Bill Clinton took the stage together, after which Clinton delivered complimentary remarks praising Romney’s support for the City Year service group when he was governor.

“He urged the Republican Congress to continue to support City Year, and he urged the White House to do it, and they did,” Clinton said of Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.  “All of you should know that.”

Romney joked about the weight a Clinton compliment carries.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good,” Romney said in response to Clinton’s praise.  “All I gotta do now is wait a couple of days for that bounce to happen.”

Romney outlined what he calls the “Prosperity Pact” program to rework the U.S. foreign aid system, focusing on promoting work and fostering free enterprise in front of a respectful but silent crowd.

Working with the private sector, the program would aim to identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations.  In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on “developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights,” Romney said.

The aid will be coupled with trade and private investment to empower individuals, encourage innovators and reward entrepreneurs.

“An assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise creates enduring prosperity,” Romney said.  “It’s more reliable.  It’s more durable.  And ultimately, as history shows, it’s more successful.”

With international tensions the topic of much of the news Tuesday -- with the U.N. General Assembly and Obama’s speech Tuesday happening in the same city -- Romney said that this plan for aid is just one part in what he sees for America’s strategy during an “uncertain” time, alluding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We should not forget -- and cannot forget -- that not far from here, a voice of unspeakable evil and hatred has spoken out, threatening Israel and the civilized world,” Romney said.  “But we come together knowing that the bitterness of hate is no match for the strength of love.”

Notably, Romney did not mention Obama once during his speech -- a marked departure of recent days.

When mentioning the challenges in the Middle East and what he called the “terrorist attack,” which killed Ambassador Stevens, he skipped berating Obama’s “bump in the road” comment, which Romney has been highlighting on the trail.

Romney said he hopes a year from now he will return to the annual meeting as president “having made substantial progress” in the reforms he’s outlined in front of the group on Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio