Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Event in Asheville, North Carolina

October 11, 2012

This has been quite a day for me and hopefully for many of you. I had the chance of a lifetime. I got to meet Billy Graham today and Franklin Graham. [applause] And I got to listen in person to someone whose music I've heard for a long time, Ronnie Milsap. Thank you, Ronnie, for performing tonight. [applause] And I'll tell you, those words from Speaker Boehner and also from Mike Huckabee, that warmed my heart. What friends they are! Thanks, guys! [applause]

Now, I know you had the chance a moment ago to hear from Congressman Patrick McHenry. He's going to get reelected and you're also going to elect someone else here. We're going to get Mark Meadows elected as the next congressman in this district. [applause] And going along with Governor Pat McCrory will be your new lieutenant governor who's here also, Dan Forrest. Thanks, Dan. [applause]

Now, I enjoyed my debate about a week ago. That was a good experience. [applause] And I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy tonight's debate as well. [applause] Because Paul Ryan and I are talking about substance and issues that matter to the American people. And this opportunity for us to meet with people across the country has brought more and more people to our campaign because we recognize that America faces real challenges and we have a president and vice president that just aren't up for the job. And so, on November 6th, we're going to send them home. [applause]

I got to — I got to ask the president some questions I know people across America have been asking. For instance, why is it with 23 million Americans out of work or stopped looking for work he spent his first two years working on "Obamacare." I asked him why it was with trillion-dollar deficits he put $90 billion into green energy companies, why it was with gasoline prices twice as high as they'd been when he took office he cut in half the permits and the licenses on federal lands and in federal waters for drilling for oil and gas.

I was able to ask why it is that he promised that health insurance premiums for the average family would decline by $2,500 a year by now and instead they've gone up by $2,500. And you know, for a median income family, that difference, that $5,000 difference makes a huge difference. So I got to ask him those questions and we heard his answers, or his non-answers as the case may be. And we did hear during his campaign, he said this. He said, you know, you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only do it from the outside. Well, we're here to take him at his word for that. Send him home and let him do it from the outside. [applause]

And you know, Mike Huckabee made a good point just a moment ago. You know, he mentioned the number of people that are out of work and he mentioned also that we've got 47 million people today on food stamps. There were only 32 million on food stamps when the president took office, more people in poverty, 1 out of 6 Americans in poverty today. And against that kind of backdrop, we have a president talking about saving Big Bird. I think it's time to have a president who will talk about saving the American family and I will. [applause]

I think — I think today we got another indication of how President Obama and his campaign fail to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face here in America. His campaign said this today about the Benghazi terrorist attack. They said this, and I quote, "The entire reason this has become the political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan."

AUDIENCE: Boo!

MR. ROMNEY: No, President Obama. It's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated. Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit that this was a terrorist attack. [applause]

This is a very — this is a very serious issue. These are very serious questions and the American people deserve serious answers and I hope they come soon. [applause] Now, in our — in our debate, we got to talk about some differences between us because that's one thing we agreed upon. And that is that we have a very different vision for the future of America and I hope you're able to pick that out.

If President Obama were able to get reelected, why, he would raise taxes. He's made it very clear. The vice president blurted out the truth the other day. They're planning on raising taxes a trillion dollars on small business and on individuals. The estimate —

AUDIENCE: Boo!

MR. ROMNEY: The estimate is their tax plan will cost 700,000 jobs. I make this commitment. I will not raise taxes on small business or on the middle class in America. We're going to keep our taxes down. [applause] If the — if the president were to be reelected, why, he made a promise that he's going to install "Obamacare." That's going to cost an extra $2,500 per year in your health insurance premiums. I instead will repeal and replace "Obamacare" to help hold down the cost of health care and health insurance. [applause]

If the president is reelected, why, he made it very clear he's going to cut Medicare by $716 billion. I will restore Medicare funding and honor the promise made to our seniors. [applause] If the president — if the president gets his way and is reelected, why, he'll cut military spending by hundreds of billions of dollars —

AUDIENCE: Boo!

MR. ROMNEY: He'll also see a sequester, which was the idea of the White House, which would cut it hundreds of billions more. My own view is this. I will not cut our defense funding. I'll make sure we have a military second to none in the world. [applause] And then — and then, we were — and then, we were asked about jobs and how we'd get more jobs in our economy, more people working, more take-home pay.

And the president actually described what he's been saying for the last four years which is he wants another stimulus. How'd the first one work out, all right? And he wants to hire some more government workers. Nothing wrong with that except that's not going to get this economy going. He said as well that he wants to raise taxes. He's going to make some investments. Remember the investments he made in Solyndra and Fisker and Tesla and Inner-One?

AUDIENCE: Boo!

MR. ROMNEY: A friend of mine said he doesn't want to pick winners and losers. He just wants to pick losers. He calls — he calls his plan forward. I call it forewarned, all right? We don't want to go down that road anymore. This president — this president says he wants to fundamentally change America. I don't want to change America. I want to restore the principles that made America the hope of the Earth. [applause]

This nation's economy — this nation's economy is not driven by government.

This nation's economy is driven by free people pursuing their dreams. It is freedom — [applause]. When the Founders crafted the founding documents of our country, they were both brilliant and I believed inspired because they said our rights came not from government but from God. [applause]

And among our rights were life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right in this nation for individuals to pursue their dreams as they choose and dreamers coming here from all over the world have helped build the most powerful economy in the world. I do not want to change America's foundation. I want to make it stronger. I will restore the principles that will get our economy going and create the jobs and take-home pay the American people deserve. [applause]

And there are five — you've heard me. There are five things I'll do that will get this economy going in a major way. Number one, we're going to take full advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. [applause] Number two — number two, we're going to make sure that trade works for us. We can compete successfully with anyone in the world. I want to open up new markets for our goods. But when people cheat like China has cheated, we will put an end to that. I will stop it as effectively as I possibly can. [applause]

Number three — number three, we're going to make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed. And for that to happen, we have to have good training programs. By the way, there are 47 federal training programs reporting to eight different federal agencies. You can think of the waste and the inefficiency. I want to take those 47 programs, take the money from them, make sure that North Carolina gets it fair share for that money and you craft your own programs for your own people in the way you think best. [applause]

And to make sure we have those skills to succeed, I want our kids to have skills they need to succeed and that means our schools have to be — have to be a lot better than we've been seeing over the past several years. It's an embarrassment that our schools are performing at the bottom third or bottom quartile of the world. And so what I'm going to do is this. I'm going to make sure we put our kids first and the parents first and the teachers first and the teachers union is going to go behind. [applause]

Number four — number four, to create these jobs, we're going to have to convince entrepreneurs and businesses large and small to grow in America, to invest in America, to hire in America. And for them to do that, they have to be convinced that we're not on the road to Greece. And this president's spending and borrowing has put us on that road. That's why I will cut federal spending. I will cap it and get us on track to a balanced budget. [applause]

And number five — number five, I will champion small business. I want to help small business grow and thrive. [applause] And to do that, unlike the president, I'll keep taxes down on small business and I'll get regulators to see their job as helping small business grow as opposed to crushing them with excessive regulation. And by the way, there's something — there's something which hangs out over small business right now, a big cloud. And that — this big cloud that's hurting small business is "Obamacare." It's one more reason that we've got to get rid of it. [applause]

If we do those five things, when I do those five things, when I'm president of the United States and do those five things — [applause] — we're going to create 12 million jobs. We're going to create 12 million jobs, get rising take-home pay again. We can do that. We can be there. I'm confident in the future of this country. I have seen the passion of the American people. Your willingness to be here this evening and brave the long lines to get in here, you care not about me or even Mike or the speaker. You care about America. That's what brings you here. [applause]

Throughout my life, I've had the chance throughout my life to see something about the character of the American people and you've seen it as well in your workplace and around you. I was at the Republican Convention not terribly long ago and when I was there I met a lovely woman named Jane Horton. Jane's husband, a sharpshooting serving in Afghanistan — on the day she's packing together a care gift to go to him on his birthday, a knock comes at her door and her husband's been killed in Afghanistan.

And she prepares to receive his body back in the United States and they have a funeral service. And this was at a time when some misguided souls were out protesting at the funerals of our servicemen and women. And she was asked —

AUDIENCE: Boo!

MR. ROMNEY: She was asked this. She said how do you feel about these people protesting at your husband's service. And she said this, and I quote. She said, "Chris died for them to be able to protest." This is the character of the American people. [applause] We're a people — we're a people of big hearts, big hearts and sound principles, people who live for something bigger than ourselves. I was a number of years ago back in Massachusetts. I had the chance to be part of a Boy Scout cord of honor. [applause]

And some of you know what that is. It's a chance for our Boy Scouts to get their Eagle Scout awards or to get other awards leading up to an eagle. And I was one of the leaders in the Boy Scout effort and so they had these Formica tables up front and I was seated at the far end of the table next to the American flag. And the speaker who was speaking was the scoutmaster from Monument, Colorado. And he described how their Boy Scout troop wanted to have a very special American flag.

So they bought one with gold tassels around it and they had it flown above the state capital as I recall and they sent it to Washington to have it flown above the national capital which it was. And then the boys had an idea. They said, hey, can we have that flag flown — go up on the space shuttle. And so they contacted NASA. And you know, space is kind of at a premium in space. So I'm sure NASA wasn't wild about taking souvenirs on the space shuttle. But they agreed. They took the boys' flag with them on the space shuttle.

And the scoutmaster said, you can't imagine how proud our boys were to watch from their homeroom as they saw that space shuttle take off and they knew their flag was on it until they saw that space shuttle explode before their eyes on TV. And he said he called NASA and he said, have you found any remnant of our flag. And they hadn't. He said he called every week. I think it was from February until, like, May or later. He called every week — have you found some part of our flag — no, no, no.

And then, in sometime — I think in September or so, he was reading an article in the newspaper that said something about a flag being in some of the debris that was recovered. And so he contacted NASA and said, have you found our flag. And they came back and said, well, as a matter of fact we have. And so, they got NASA together with this Boy Scout troop and then they presented the Boy Scout troop with a plastic container and in the container they opened it up and he said, there was our flag in perfect condition. [applause]

And then he said this. He said, that's the flag on the flagpole next to Mr. Romney right here. And I reached over and pulled out that flag and as I touched that flag it was as if electricity was running through my arm because I thought about the men and women in our space program who put themselves in harm's way out of a desire to discovery, to learn, to pioneer. It's part of the American spirit to live for something bigger than ourselves. We do that day in and day out. [applause]

We've got — we've got dads — we've got dads in America today that are doing two jobs, two jobs so they can afford to give their kids the kind of clothes their kids need to fit in at school. We've got single moms that are working real hard to make sure that their child is able to have food on the table at the end of the week. We've got — we've got parents that don't exchange gifts with each other for birthdays or for Christmas so they can make sure and provide a Christmas for their kids.

The American people give for their kids. They give for their country. We're a patriotic people. We love America. We live for something bigger than ourselves. That is the nature of America. [applause] And this is a critical time. This is a critical time for America. We face extraordinary challenges, challenges in foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, challenge at home with people who need good jobs. This is a time when the American people are going to have to grab the torch.

You see, the greatest generation held aloft a torch for the world to see, a torch of liberty and opportunity and human rights and freedom. But there are not as many in the greatest generation as there used to be. And those that are here can't hold a torch as high as they used to because of their age. It's our turn. We've got to grab that torch and hold it aloft. And I'm counting on you to help me do that. [applause]

This is time — this is time for North Carolina, for the entire country to come together and say we're taking America back. We're going to strengthen our families. We're going to strengthen our values. We're going to strengthen our economy. We're going to strengthen our military. We're going to make sure that America has the capacity to lead the world and to care for our families. I love America! I believe in you! I believe in America! We're going to take back this country and keep it the hope of the Earth! Thank you so very much! You guys are the best! Thank you! Thank you! [applause]

Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Asheville, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315841

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