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Off to the races! Romney Presidential campaign comes to town

After receiving a glowing introduction and endorsement from Grafton County Commissioner and Executive Councilor Ray Burton, former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney shows off his “Burton for Certain” baseball cap at a campaign appearance at the Common Man in Plymouth on Monday afternoon. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
August 17, 2011
PLYMOUTH—The Presidential Primary season in the "first in the nation" state of New Hampshire is in full gear, and veteran Republican presidential primary candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, made a campaign stop at the Common Man in Plymouth on Monday afternoon.

Romney received a glowing introduction and important local endorsement from Grafton County Commissioner and Executive Councilor Ray Burton, who praised him as a "moderate" leader who has proven his ability to work in a bipartisan manner and win over enough independent and Democratic voters to be elected as a Republican in as Democratic a state as Massachusetts.

Speaking to a crowded room full of television cameras, national news reporters, local residents and elected officials, Romney wasted no time on his fellow Republican challengers for the nomination, choosing instead to deliver a stinging attack on what he called the "failed presidency" of Barack Obama, and touting his own experience as a businessman and chief executive.

Romney said that he did not question the President's patriotism or love of country, but he did feel that President Obama lacked the experience he needed to do the job.

"I think last time around, we elected a President we didn't know very well. He didn't understand how the economy works. Three years into the Obama administration, there are 25 million Americans out of work, home values are still going down, and we are still experiencing record foreclosures. He has failed us," said Romney. "I know how the economy works."

Spelling out the things he believes we need to do to get the economy moving in the right direction again, Romney laid out the prescription for the economy that he introduced at last week's Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Iowa.

First, he said he would "not raise taxes on employers."

"I do not raise taxes on job creators or innovators," said Romney. "I am more focused on getting people back to work than on punishing rich people."

He said the solution is to cut excesses in government spending, and to grow the economy.

He did not rule out the need for some tax reform to close loopholes and restructure incentives, but he argued in favor of bringing tax rates down for most people.

Other elements of his plan include cutting government regulations and bureaucracy to reduce the burden, especially on small business, increasing exports, reducing dependence on foreign oil, enhancing competitiveness by investing in "human capital" and the institutions that build capacity –our schools and universities.

Engaging in a little light-hearted banter with Common Man founder Alex Ray, Romney pointed to Ray's success in creating jobs and moving the economy forward here in New Hampshire as an model of the innovation and entrepreneurship he feels need to be encouraged to get the economy back on track again.

For his part, Ray urged Romney to advocate for development of local and renewable sources of energy, particularly here in New Hampshire, where wood products are abundant, and the markets are potentially threatened by "an extension cord from Hydro Quebec" (a dirisive reference on his part to the Northern Pass project).

Romney responded that he was in favor of developing all sources of domestic energy, including nuclear, ethanol, and especially natural gas.

In response to a question from Republican activist Bill Tobin about foreign aid, Romney said that he favored a far more stringent criteria for determining when to send American taxpayers' money abroad for humanitarian purposes.

"If there is not a strategic national purpose that is critical and imminent, I think we need to question ourselves," said Romney. "We need to ask, is this so important that we should be borrowing money from China to do it?"

Social Security and health care were two other topics that were on the minds of local voters. Romney said he would not advocate for any change to Social Security for people who are already on Social Security, but indicated that we would have to make some changes for future recipients if we are to ensure the system's sustainability overtime. He suggested the need to raise the retirement over time or to adopt some form of "progressive indexing" for higher income levels.

When pressed about his position on health care reform, he was emphatic, saying that one of the first things he would do after assuming the presidency would be to enact a "waiver to the Obamacare mandate" for all 50 states.

"What we did in Massachusetts may not work in other states," said Romney. "I believe that states are able to put in place mandates that constitutionally, the federal government cannot.

"It is up to each state to determine the best way to care for the uninsured and the poor," said Romney to a round of applause.

But Democratic State Rep. Suzanne Smith, who attended the event, said that she was not swayed by Romney's arguments.

"Gov. Romney says he knows how to run the country because of his experience as a business owner. However, when you're in business and costs go up, you look for new revenue so that you can grow your business," commented Rep. Smith. "Governor Romney has signed the no tax pledge, and said in the debate last week that he would not accept a deficit reduction plan with any new revenue sources. He is pandering to the far right-wing base, leaving New Hampshire's centrist majority behind."

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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