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Romney makes it official, says Obama 'has failed America'
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announces his second bid for the presidency on Thursday in Stratham. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)
STRATHAM - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney formally announced his second bid for the presidency Thursday, charging that President Barack Obama “has failed America” and saying that he is the candidate who can defeat the incumbent in November 2012 and restore strength to America's economy.
Romney, 64, fell short in a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 after losing the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary to John McCain.
He made his announcement before a crowd estimated by his campaign at about 1,000 amid the rolling hills of former New Hampshire House Speaker Douglas Scamman's farm, which has been the scene of a host of political events over the years.
Focusing on his experience in the private sector and as chief executive of the Bay State from 2003 to 2007, the Detroit native and son of the late Michigan Gov. George Romney promised to balance the federal budget, repeal “Obamacare,” and to “pass the torch to the next generation, not a bill.”
“It breaks my heart to see what's happening in this country,” Romney said.
He said that while the economy was in recession when Obama took office, “he made it worse. And he made it last longer.”
Romney said more than 16 million Americans are out of work or have stopped looking for jobs, unemployment exceeds 8 percent, “foreclosures are at record levels,” “the prices of homes continue to fall,” and, “Families are buried under higher prices for food and higher prices for gasoline.”
He said that as President he would draw on his experience at Bain and Company and Bain Capital to create jobs.
He admitted that although “sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs” and “other times I was not,” he “learned how America competes with companies in other countries, what works in the real world and what doesn't.”
Democrats locally and nationally continued their relentless attacks on Romney, who is the clear front-runner in the New Hampshire presidential primary campaign but who is less clearly leading the GOP pack nationally.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said that although Romney and “his handlers” are counting on a New Hampshire primary victory, “the problem for Mitt Romney is that the reason Granite Staters rejected him three years ago remains the same today. They believe he is a wishy-washy, flip-flopping politician who will say anything or take any position to suit his own immediate political needs.”
Romney was competing for media attention today with 2008 vice presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose “One Nation” Tour rolled into Portsmouth about the time Romney was speaking less than 10 miles away.
Palin's staff was inviting New Hampshire Republicans to an evening clambake at a private residence in Seabrook.
Romney supporters were undaunted by the Palin distraction. Many of the approximately 1,000 supporters at the farm crowded around a makeshift podium flanked with bales of hay above a homemade “Scamman Farm” sign.
Former GOP gubernatorial nominee Jim Coburn endorsed Mike Huckabee in 2008, but with Huckabee not running, he now backs Romney.
“I always thought Romney would make a good President,” Coburn said. “He has values, he knows how to get things done, he can pull a good team together and those are the kinds of things we need.”
State conservative leader Kevin Smith, who is uncommitted in the GOP primary race, said that after losing the GOP nomination and the New Hampshire primary, in 2008, Romney “needs to prove that he's the right guy to lead the country at a time when unemployment is still very high and the deficit continues to grow. He needs to show that he's up for the job.”
Former Gov. John H. Sununu, who has spoken highly of Romney but has not officially endorsed him, said Romney and his campaign “have been through it once, they know how to organize better than last time. I think they're getting sharper on message and I think they're rightly focusing on the concern that America has about jobs and spending and taxes.
“All the candidates will try to do that,” Sununu said. “Whatever one does it best will get the support of the people.”
While Palin in recent days has downplayed the importance of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary to the nomination process, Romney emphasized the key role the state plays by holding his announcement speech in the state.
“It's in his heart,” said Romney supporter Ron Kaufman, former political director in the George H.W. Bush (41) White House.
“His favorite place in the world is to be on the lake in Wolfeboro,” where he owns a second home “with his family,” Kaufman said of Romney.
Kaufman, now a Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman, said the importance of the first-in-the-nation primary to the state has “actually increased” based on the results of the last several cycles.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said Romney “understands the history and tradition and importance of the New Hampshire primary and intends to run the kind of campaign Granite Staters expect from presidential candidates.”
Romney drew a crowd prior to his speech by serving his wife, Ann's, homemade chili to scores of supporters.
“A few years ago,” Romney said in his announcement, “Americans did something that was, actually, very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead; someone we hadn't known for very long, who didn't have a long record but promised to lead us to a better place.
“At the time, we didn't know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best.
“Now, in the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. Barack Obama has failed America.”
He said Obama has worsened the recession, and 16 million Americans are out off work, “foreclosures are at record levels” and the national debt has grown “nearly as large as the national economy.”
He said Obama's “misery index has never been higher,” adding, “No, Mr. President; you've had your chance.”
Romney said that across the country, Romney said that under Obama the federal government “has grown to consume almost 40 percent of our economy. We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy.”
He said that as President, “I will cap federal spending at 20 percent or less of the GDP (gross domestic product) and finally, finally balance the budget.
“I will insist that Washington learns to respect the constitution, including the 10th amendment. We will return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs – and that begins with a complete repeal of ‘Obamacare,'” Romney said.
“From my first day in office my number one job will be to see that America once again is number one in job creation,” said Romney.
State Democratic Chairman Buckley said Romney “has flip-flopped on the (health care) individual mandate, TARP, the Recovery Act and on cap and trade. And most recently, he attempted to take credit for saving the auto industry after he proposed letting it go bankrupt. It's unclear whether even Mitt Romney knows where Mitt Romney stands on the issues.”
Buckley said that while Romney claims to be a jobs creator, “He should try telling that to the people whose jobs he slashed as a profit-seeking corporate raider or the people of Massachusetts where, when he was governor, the Bay State ranked 47th of 50 states in job creation.”
Prior to Romney's appearance, Scamman led the crowd in a moment of silence for former Gov. Walter Peterson, who died Wednesday night, and the victims of tornadoes across the country.
Ann Romney introduced her husband of 42 years as her inspiration during her battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.
Romney said Obama has “apologized for America,” and that during “a time of historic change and great opportunity in the Arab world, he is hesitant and uncertain.”
Yet, Obama “seems firmly and clearly determined to undermine our longtime friend and ally,” Israel.
He did, however, credit Obama with ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and said, “In Afghanistan, the surge was right, announcing a withdrawal date was wrong.”
Domestically, Obama has raised taxes on businesses and has “rammed through a disastrous national health care plan,” Romney charged.
Romney said that when he became governor of Massachusetts, he faced a $3 billion budget gap, but then “balanced the budget without raising taxes.” He said he cut taxes 19 times.
He said his Massachusetts health care plan was “a state solution to a state problem.” He said he vetoed more than 400 bills and “made our schools first among the 50 states.”
“If you want to create jobs it helps to have actually had a job and I have,” said Romney. “It's time for a President who cares more for America's workers than he does for America's union bosses.”
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