Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Event in Abingdon, Virginia

October 05, 2012

[cheers and applause]

MITT ROMNEY: Wow. That's quite a welcome. Thank you, Virginia. [cheers and applause] Thank you! That is —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mitt! [cheers]

MR. ROMNEY: I love you too, guys. [cheers] Boy —

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you. Thank you. [cheers and applause]

Gosh, I just — I just spent a half hour or so with some of your fine citizens from this area, folks who are working in this area that want to keep working in this area — wonderful couple that has a farm that — now they wonder whether they'll be able to keep the farm because the — the husband lost his job at the coal mine.

These are — these are tough times in this community. But you are strong and confident and patriotic people and we're going to bring back jobs and bring back America. [cheers and applause]

Now, somewhere Congressman Morgan Griffith is here. Where is — Morgan Griffith. Where's he hanging out? Is he over here? Hello, Congressman. How are you? Good to see you. Thanks for being here.

You got to make sure to re-elect this guy. Morgan Griffith is one of the best. [cheers and applause]

And by the way, we'd have the governor here today, but he's down in Florida campaigning for me. So thank you to Bob McDonald for all the work he's doing, a great governor. [cheers and applause]

And you may know that a couple of nights ago, we had a debate. You may have gotten the chance to see that. [cheers and applause] And it was a good experience, I think, for me, for the president, for people who watched. It was a debate of substance. We talked about the issues that America faces.

I got the chance to ask the president some questions that people — I think people across the country have wanted to ask the president, such as why — why it was that when America was needing jobs so badly, he was pushing for "Obamacare" instead of working to get jobs for the American people. [boos]

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah! [applause]

MR. ROMNEY: Got the chance to ask him why there's still 23 million Americans that are out of work or have stopped looking for work, struggling to find good full-time jobs. I got the chance to ask him why it is the middle class is so buried in this country. Incomes have gone down, prices of gasoline have doubled, prices of food and clothing and almost everything else you buy has gone up. People in the middle class have been squeezed. They've been buried, as the vice president said. Got the chance to talk about that.

Got the chance to ask him why he's cutting $716 billion from Medicare. That's not the right thing to do, to pay for "Obamacare." [boos] And I also got to point out that he's in favor of a tax plan that will kill 700,000 jobs.

[boos] And so he had the chance to answer those questions — or not answer them, as the case may be.

But then — (jeers) — I think even more important was the chance to talk about where we're going in the future and what he would what I'd do. And — and what he described was, in my view, a — a reiteration of the status quo. He's going to keep doing the things he's done in the past. He's going to have a stimulus if he can. He's going to hire more government workers if he can. He's going to pick winners and losers like Solyndra, Fisker and Tesla. (Scattered jeers.) A friend of mine said, no, he — he doesn't like picking winners and losers; he just likes picking losers. [laughter]

And so — and of course, he's in favor of higher taxes. Yesterday the vice president blurted out the truth. He said in fact they do want to raise taxes a trillion dollars. Well, I don't want to raise taxes on any Americans because I want to create good jobs in America. [cheers and applause]

Now, I take America in a very different direction. First of all, I want to make sure that our policies encourage job growth. And I have five things I'll do. You've heard me describe them time and again, but five things I'll do that'll get jobs growing in this country again and growing right here in this part of Virginia as well, because number one on my list is to take full advantage of all our energy resources, our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. [cheers and applause]

And I know you care a lot more about coal than the other ones I just mentioned. So let me just remind you that when the president was running for office, he said that if you built a — a new coal-fired plant, why, you go bankrupt. And the head of the EPA has — has also said that the regulations on burning coal are now so stringent it's virtually impossible to build a new coal-fired plant.

Well, I don't believe in putting our — our coal under the — under the ground forever. I believe we should take advantage of it, put American workers back to work and use a resource that's abundant and cheap and can be burned in a clean way. [cheers and applause]

And by the way, I also believe in — in oil and gas. I believe we should develop our resources. I believe within eight years, America — North America, rather, should be energy-independent, and that requires all those sources of energy. [cheers and applause] And that'll keep — that'll keep the price at the pump moderated. It will keep the price of electricity moderated. It'll also mean a lot of good jobs for Americans. It's been calculated if we're really serious about energy, really take advantage of the energy resources we have, that you're going to create some 3.5 (million) to 4 million jobs.


MR. ROMNEY: I know right now you're thinking about one job, your job. I'm thinking about your job as well, person by person. Every American deserves a good job. People are hardworking right here in this community. I want to make sure your jobs stay here, grow here and provide a bright future for you and for your family. [cheers and applause]

Now I also — I also believe, in addition to energy, that — that we have an opportunity to create more jobs by selling our goods and services abroad. So I want to open up more trade with other nations. And if China's stealing jobs unfairly, I'll crack down on China. (Cheers, chanting, applause.)

Number three — number three, I want to make sure that our people have the skills they need to succeed, so we have a lot of government training programs, and that's at — that's all file and — fine and well, except there are 47 of them, federal government training programs, and they report to eight different government agencies and so the — the overhead cost of all of this — this burden and bureaucracy is just killing — I'd like to take the money the federal government is spending on training, bundle it up, send back to Virginia its fair share and let Virginia do what's right for the people of Virginia with their training dollars. [cheers and applause]

And let me — let me mention — as my number four here to get this economy going and to create more good jobs, let me mention something about the deficit. This idea of every year America spending in the federal government a trillion dollars more than we take in is bad for our economy. It's also bad for the next generation. As I said during that debate, I think it's immoral for us to keep spending more than we take in. So I will cut federal spending, I will cap federal spending, and I'll get us on track to a balanced budget. [cheers and applause]

And people ask me how I'm going to do that, I said — again, as I said the other night, I'm going to cut out programs we don't absolutely have to have; and number two, I'm going to make sure that some programs go back to the states, where they can be run more efficiently and effectively. We're going to cut back on the size of the federal government.

And one of the programs I'm going to get rid of is "Obamacare." [cheers and applause] We can't afford it; we don't need it; it's the wrong way.

And finally let me mention a fifth idea, and that is I want to champion small business. [cheers and applause] I want to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start businesses, to grow. And I know how to do that.

The president has an unusual tax plan. His plan is to raise taxes, particularly on successful small businesses, that happen to employ a quarter of all America's private-sector workforce. He wants to raise their taxes from 35 percent to 40 percent.

And by the way, when you take that together with state income tax and payroll tax and real estate tax and gasoline tax and you take them all together, that means small businesses that are highly successful are going to end up giving more than half of what they got to government. And that's going to kill jobs.

I don't want to kill jobs. My priority is creating jobs. I'll help small business do that with everything I can do. [cheers and applause]

Now, we can do better. We don't have to stay on the path we've been on. We can do better.

There — there was a — a report that just came out this morning on job creation this last month. There were fewer new jobs created this month than last month. And the — the unemployment rate, as you (know ?), this year has come down very, very slowly, but it's come down nonetheless. The reason it's come down this year is primarily due to the fact that more and more people have just stopped looking for work. And if you just drop out of the workforce, if you just give up and say, look, I can't go back to work, I'm just going to stay home, if you just drop out altogether, why, you're no longer a part of the employment statistics. So it looks like unemployment's getting better, but the truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today as on the day the president got elected, why, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent. That's the real reality of what's happening out there.

And then of course, even those that have jobs are having tough times. The middle class is being squeezed with higher and higher costs and with incomes that have gone down by $4,300 a family. This can't go on. I'll tell you this. When I'm president of the United States, when I'm president of the United States — [cheers and applause] — that — that unemployment rate is going to come down, not because people are giving up and dropping out of the workforce, but because we're creating more jobs. I will create jobs and get America working again. [cheers and applause]

And so the American people have a choice. I — I think in both — both men, we have individuals who care very deeply about our country and care about the people of America. But we were — but we would lead America in very different ways. This president calls his policies going forward. I call his policies forewarned, all right? [cheers] We know — we know where they head because we've seen them over the last four years. We've seen 23 million people out of work. We've seen half the kids coming out of college not able to get work or college-level work.

We've seen incomes go down. We've seen trillion-dollar deficits. The road this president's put us on looks like Europe. Europe isn't working in Europe. It'll never work here. (Whoops.)


MR. ROMNEY: Look, the president — if he's — if he's re-elected, this president is going to have trillion-dollar deficits every year. We'd end up with about a $20 trillion debt. It's about $150,000 a family. And you don't see that money — you don't see — you don't see that debt, rather, but you're going to be paying the interest on it all your lives and then your kids are going to be paying for it. And you're going to wonder why it is government's taking so much, and a lot of it is just to pay for the interest on all this debt we're racking up. That's the wrong way to go.

He would also take us down a path like Europe, which means chronic high unemployment. They have high levels of unemployment and low wage growth, and their countries, as you know, are on the verge of — of fiscal collapse or fiscal calamity or crisis. That's the path that he's taking us on.

I'll take us on a very different course. I will help create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay. [cheers and applause]

I will get us on track to a balanced budget. I'll restore personal freedom in part by getting rid of "Obamacare," returning to people the right they have to care for their own health care with their own physician. [cheers and applause]

And one more thing. This president's trying to make all the — all the number work by cutting in one place, and that's our military. [boos] That's the one place — [booing] — that's the one place he seems to be — he seems to be willing to take a pretty big meat cleaver to. He had his own budget, which cut the military, and then on top of that, he had this idea of a sequestration, which would cut it even more. He's cutting about a trillion dollars out of our military.

I — I hope you understand what's happened to the size of our military. You realize we have fewer ships in our Navy today than any time since 1917? [boos] And our Air Force is — is older and smaller in its fleet than any time since 1947, when it was formed.

And of course you know that our troops were stretched to the limit in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and yet he wants to shrink our number of troops, shrink our shipbuilding, shrink our purchases of aircraft.

I would take us in a very different direction. If I'm president of the United States, I will maintain a military second to none — [cheers and applause] — that is so strong no one would ever test it. We'll add to our Navy, to our Air Force and to our active duty personnel.


MR. ROMNEY: One of the great experiences — one of the great experiences I've had in this campaign is meeting men and women who served in our military. I — I deeply respect and appreciate the sacrifice that they've made, and I particularly appreciate the sacrifice also of their families and those that have been lost and their families.

I wonder if those that are here today who've served in our military or are serving today would please raise their hand and be recognized. [cheers and applause] Wow.

This is a — this is a beautiful corner of God's — God's creation in this great country right here, but that wonderful line from one of our national hymns comes to mind, "O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life." I love our national heroes, the men and women of our armed forces. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. [cheers and applause]

And so we face a critical time. We face a time when too many Americans are out of work, when too many Americans are tired of being tired. We face a time when our kids wonder whether the future will be bright as — bright for them as it has been for their parents. We face a time when there's tumult in the Middle East and other parts of the world, and people are asking, where's America?

Where is American leadership?

This is a critical time. If we were to reelect President Obama, I don't think we would measure up to the test of time.

I understand what it takes to restore the vitality of our economy, and that will allow us to restore the strength of our military and to continue to lead in the world. Liberty depends upon it.

I was at a celebration of Memorial Day in San Diego, a great military town, and I sat with a number of veterans from the Second World War. One of them who was standing there or sitting there was actually on the USS Tennessee on the day that their ship was attacked at Pearl Harbor. He was in the lookout post. He said he could actually lock eyes with the pilot bringing in the armament. He went on to serve for 33 more years in our U.S. Navy, even though he was injured in that attack. [cheers and applause]

The men and women like him in that greatest generation sacrificed enormously for us, for our prosperity and for our freedom. And they also held aloft a torch for the world to see — a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. Now, there are not as many as there used to be in the greatest generation; and they're not as strong as they used to be, those who that are still with us — they can't hold the torch quite as high. It's our turn. It's our turn to grab that torch and lift it aloft. [cheers and applause] And we're going to to do it. [cheers and applause]

And I need your help to make sure we do it on November 6th. I need you guys to all vote. [cheers and applause] I need you to get your friends to vote. [cheers and applause] We need to take back America and keep America the shining city on the hill. [cheers and applause]

I love this great country. I believe in you. We're going to get America back and keep it so strong that the world is going to wonder at the great things we've achieved.

Thank you so very much — [cheers and applause] — and God bless Virginia, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. [cheers and applause]

Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Abingdon, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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