Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned on Friday that the U.S. economy faced a huge fiscal hole and high taxes like the state of California if he did not win November’s election against President Barack Obama.

Seeking to keep his focus on economic issues, the comments were a departure for Romney, who usually holds up Europe’s economic troubles, not California’s, as an example of what could happen to the American economy.

“There are only two ways to go: Like America in the past,” Romney said. “Or like California, where they raise taxes higher and higher and higher. They scare away employers … and they have huge deficits,” he said in a telephone town-hall meeting with voters from four swing states.

Romney promised to repeal Obama’s signature healthcare reform law, cut taxes and roll back what he said were burdensome regulations on Wall Street.