Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Event in Fairfax, Virginia

September 13, 2012

My goodness. What a Northern Virginia welcome. Thank you. [cheers and applause]

And Terrence Chou , if I'm the next president of the United States, we're going to help get you a job, and a lot of others veterans (too ?). [cheers and applause] Our veterans coming home ought to be able to have a job when they get home, you know that? [cheers and applause] We got to get this economy working for our veterans.

Thank you so much for that introduction and (that welcome ?). You guys are fabulous. Thank you. [cheers and applause] You know, Northern Virginia could well determine who the next president is, and I hope you make that decision again in the election. [cheers and applause]

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

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney!

MR. ROMNEY: You guys are the best, I'll tell you. And — and you give me such a boost of energy and optimism. I'm excited about our future.

I know that we have heavy hearts across America today. And I want you to know things are going to get a lot better, but I also recognize that right now we're — we're in mourning. We've lost four of our diplomats across the world.

We're — we're thinking about their families and — and those that they've left behind. What a tragedy to lose such a wonderful — wonderful —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible]

MR. ROMNEY: — wonderful people — [inaudible] — and appreciate their — their service for the country. [cheers]

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

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

MR. ROMNEY: And so — and I would — I would offer a moment of silence, but one gentleman doesn't want to be silent, so we're going to keep — we're going to keep on going.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: USA! USA! USA!

MR. ROMNEY: Let me talk about something else. And that is, today we saw the — the headlines in the — in USA Today. And they said that the median income in America has (grown ?) by $4,300 for a family. [boos] So these are — these are tough times for American families that have work, and then you have 23 million people who are out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed. These are — these are tough times.

But you know what? Your optimism is my optimism. America is coming back. We're going to make sure that we have the jobs that we need. America is going to remain strong. And we're going to make sure that we remain the hope of the earth. [cheers and applause]

Now, a strong America is essential to the world. It's essential to us and to our future but also to the world. I — I was in Poland a few weeks ago, and I — I met with Lech Walesa, a world hero, and — (scattered cheers, applause) — and he — he saw me come in, and — and through an interpreter, he said, you must be tired, you've come from across the ocean. He said, you sit, I talk, you listen. And — [laughter] — abrupt and to the point.

And he said this time and time again, he said, the world needs American leadership. Where is American leadership? We need a strong America. Where is American leadership?

And I intend to lead and to have an America that's strong, that helps lead the world. [cheers and applause]

As we — as we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we're at the mercy of events instead of shaping events. And a strong America's essential to shape events. And a strong America, by the way, depends on a strong military. We have to have a military — [cheers and applause] — we have to have a military second to none and that's so strong, no one would ever think of testing it.

This president has done something I find very hard to understand. Ever since FDR, we've had the capacity to be engaged in two conflicts at once. And he's saying no, we're going to cut that back to only one conflict. [boos] And so he's put in place cuts of almost a trillion dollars, but with his budget cuts and the sequestration cuts, we'll have almost a trillion dollars of cuts to our military. [boos] If I'm president of he United States, we will restore our military commitment and keep America the strongest military in the world. [cheers and applause]

The world needs American leadership. The Middle East meeds — needs American leadership, and I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and — and will keep us admired throughout the world. [cheers and applause]

Now for us to have a strong military, of course you have to have a strong economy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!

MR. ROMNEY: And people have to be able to get good jobs. And our veterans coming home deserve those good jobs.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!

MR. ROMNEY: And so I would have expected that — with 23 million Americans out of work or having stopped looking for work or underemployed, I would have expected that when the president gave his address at the convention a couple weeks ago, that he would have spoken about the unemployed. But he didn't. I expected him to talk about a plan to get people back to work. Oh, he talks about where he wants to get, but not how to get there. And we've watched him for the last four years, and what he has done has not helped. It has led to $4,300 decline in median income. It's led to unemployment being of — of 8 percent for 43 straight months.

It's led to a larger and larger gap between the wealthier and the rest of America.

His policies have not worked. How in the world he can go before a Democrat convention and speak to the nation and offer nothing but more of the same is beyond me. We want real change. I'm going to bring real change and get America working again. [cheers and applause]

I listened — I looked at that — at the text of his speech at the convention. I expected there to be some new ideas in there. There are no new ideas. He's got — he's out of ideas, he's out of excuses, and we — you're going to make sure in November you put him out of office. [cheers and applause]

Now, there are five things — there are five things in my plan that will get America working again and keep us so strong we can have a military that's second to the world — second to none in the world. And let me tell you what those five things are. You may have heard them before, but if you haven't, you got to memorize them. I'm kidding. [laughter]

Number one. Number one, we have an ace in the hole. We have a chance — we have a special advantage in America, a number of them, but one in particular that hasn't been taken full advantage of that's going to get this economy going in a big hurry, and that is, we have a lot of energy. I'm going to take advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. America's going to become — North America will be energy independent within eight years. [cheers and applause]

And let me tell you how I'd do that, by the way. This is not just a dream. This you can do. The president has cut in half permitting and licensing on federal lands and in federal waters. I'll double it. The president has said no to drilling in ANWR. I'll open up ANWR. [cheers and applause] I want to make sure we can drill in the Outer Continental Shelf, where there states like Virginia want to do that.

[cheers and applause]

I want to make sure we use our natural gas. We have massive resources of natural gas. It's cheap. It's plentiful. We want to get it to the places that can use it. Using natural gas not just to heat our homes and power our factories but — but also as a transportation fuel will help us become energy independent.

And one more thing: I will make sure we get that pipeline from Canada and get oil that we can use and need. [cheers and applause]

So number one, we're going to take advantage of our energy, and that's going to create millions of jobs not just in the energy sector but also in manufacturing, other places that use energy. That's going to help us create jobs.

Number two, we're going to make trade work for America. What do I mean by that? We're going to — we're going to open up new markets for our goods and expand our — our reach into other parts of the world where other nations are now competing. I want to make sure our goods can go throughout the world.

But I also want to make sure that if a nation cheats like China has cheated, we call them on the carpet and don't let it continue. [cheers and applause] And the — and the cheating — the cheating takes on a lot of different dimensions. I mean, cheating occurs if you hold down your currency. You might wonder, what in the world has that got to do with jobs here? Let me tell you: When China manipulates their currency by holding down the value of their currency compared to ours, what it does is makes their products in this country artificially cheap. And that then drives American manufacturers and American producers out of business and kills jobs.

The president's had the chance year after year to label — to label China a currency manipulator, but he hasn't done so. And I will label China the currency manipulator they're — they are on the first day. [cheers and applause]

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney!

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] USA! USA! USA! USA!

MR. ROMNEY: Let me tell you what else they do. They take technology from America. They steal our technology. They hack into our computers. They also steal our know-how, our patents. Did you know they even have an Apple store? It's a fake Apple store. They sell counterfeit Apple products.

This is wrong. We're going to crack down on China when they manipulate their currency, when they steal our goods, when they don't protect our intellectual property. We're going to make sure that China understands we mean business. Trade is going to work for us, not just for them. [cheers and applause]

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!

MR. ROMNEY: So number one is energy, and number two is trade. And number three, education. We've got to help people get the skills they need for the jobs of today, and we got to make sure our schools are competitive with the world. We can't continue to have schools in the bottom third of the world. I want to make sure we put our kids and the teachers and the parents first and we put the unions behind. [cheers and applause]

Number four, number four, we're not going to have entrepreneurs go out and start a small business or big businesses decide to build new factories in America if we think we're headed to the road to Greece. This spending massively more than we take in every year is killing jobs. It's one more reason why it's essential for us to cut back on the size of the federal government and live within our means. I will get America on track to a balanced budget. It's essential to getting the job growth we need. [cheers and applause]

And one more, one more, let me mention. And that's, we need to champion small business. [cheers] We need small business to grow and feel like this is the right place for them to risk and to hire people and to expand. Small business has been crushed under these last 3 1/2 years. We're at a 30-year low in the number of new business startups in America.

You realize about two-thirds of the new jobs created in this country are — are created by small business. The president wants to raise taxes on a million of them. I don't want to raise taxes. I'd rather keep taxes down.

Regulation — look, regulations, big companies can deal with, but small companies get crushed by regulation. We've got to ease the regulatory burden on small business, and we got to take off that big cloud that's scaring small businesses from hiring. We have got to repeal "Obamacare" and replace it with something that works to get the cost of health care down. [cheers and applause]

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you! Thank you, Mitt!

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

MR. ROMNEY: If we do those five things — if we do those five things I'm talking about, we're going to create about 12 million jobs in the next four years. You're going to see Americans to work again. And by the way, we're going to see rising wages again too because there's going to be competition to try and hire people. That's what drives wages up. I want higher wages and more take-home pay for the American people. I don't want people getting crushed by higher costs and lower salaries and lower wages and lower take-home pay. That's my plan.

Now, I'm confident it's going to work because I didn't just study the economy in school; I actually have lived in the economy for 25 years. [cheers and applause] And I've also had the chance during this campaign to go across America and meet entrepreneurs and innovators. And the spirit of America, the can-do, "we can make it happen" kind of spirit is very much there. And if we just have a government that recognizes that by lifting individuals and — and celebrating success in America, we're going to have more of it, then you're going to see this economy come roaring back.

What the president's doing is making government bigger and bigger and bigger. We don't need more government. It's crushing the American spirit. We need more entrepreneurs and innovators and more freedom for the American people. [cheers and applause]

I just have to tell you a couple of stories. I was — I had the chance to meet a woman entrepreneur. I've met a lot of them. And I met one, and I said to her, how did you get your business started? And she said, well, my husband lost his job and he took a class in upholstering. And she said that because she was the better business mind in the family, she started the company. And she hired him as her first employee. [laughter] And then she went on to hire 39 more people as upholsterers, and now she has a very successful, thriving upholstery company. That's the kind of entrepreneurship that drives America's economy. [cheers and applause]

I met a guy — I met a guy named Jim Leotoad. Jim Leotoad, southern Illinois. He graduated second in his high school class — second from the bottom, that is. [laughter] And he concluded that college was not likely to be part of his future. And so he went to his dad and said, can you loan me some money? And his dad and he worked out a deal. I think they split it about 50-50. Dad put up the money; he did the work and began his enterprise.

Well, he went out to buy a hamburger griddle and one of those rollers that makes hot dogs, you know, and then the big hood that takes out the smoke and all that. And by the time he added up the cost for all his, it was a lot more than the money he had.

He concluded the only thing he could make with the money he had was sandwiches because they don't take a lot of equipment. So he set up some tables in the garage and started making sandwiches, and then he delivered them to people at work. Now Jimmy John's has 1,500 restaurants and employs 60,000 Americans. [cheers and applause]

I just love the American entrepreneurship and innovativeness. It is what will rekindle our economy and put people back to work and cause wages and take-home to go up. We've seen it. We — and by the way —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We built it!

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, you're absolutely right. We built it. All right. As someone over here said, we built it. [cheers and applause]

These entrepreneurs built it. When the president the other day said that in Roanoke, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe he actually said that, when he got up there and said if you have a business, you didn't build it, someone else did that. [boos]

And he said, well, you're — (boos continue) — he said you're taking me out of context. [laughter] The context is worse than the quote. [laughter] Have you seen — have you see the context? He said, you know, if you're successful, you may think it's because you're smart, but there are a lot of smart people, and you may think it's because you're hardworking, but there are a lot of hardworking people. I wondered, where he's going with this? You see — [laughter] — the America I know relishes and — and celebrates people who work hard to improve their — their minds and — and take risk and work hard and start businesses. That's what's going to get America going, not a bigger government. We want more entrepreneurship, not more government. [cheers and applause]

The president's making us more and more like Europe, and Europe doesn't work in Europe. [boos]

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!

MR. ROMNEY: It's not going to work here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: No! [boos]

MR. ROMNEY: I want to restore to America the principles that have made us the hope of the earth. When the — when the founders of this nation wrote the Declaration of Independence, they chose their words with care, and their vision for America was different than anything else that the world had seen.

First they said that our rights came not from government or the king but our rights came from God. [cheers and applause] That was the first observation. And then they said among those rights were life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You see, in this country, we would be free to pursue happiness as we choose. The government would not tell us how to live our lives or what kind of health care we could have or what kind of business we could be in or not be or what we could charge for a product we made. Instead we, as free people, would pursue happiness as we choose, and that innovation, that idea — that free people, each going in their own direction, not being guided by a government, but each going in their own direction — would create the most powerful economy in the history of the earth.

If we want to get America working again, we have to restore that principle. Those principles recognized the hand of God in the rights we have, recognized life, liberty and our right to pursue happiness. It's time for us to restore the freedoms in America to get America working again. [cheers and applause]

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney!

MR. ROMNEY: This is important. This is important, you guys. This race is important. I agree with the president: This is a watershed race. This is a critical choice. Is America going to become more and more like the — the vision of President Obama with a bigger and bigger government?

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No!

MR. ROMNEY: I agree with you. The consequence of taking the wrong choice here is severe because if we keep going down the path we're on, you're going to see chronic long-term unemployment, you're going to see no-wage growth — that's what we've seen over the last four years — you're going to see the gap between the wealthiest and everyone else become larger and larger. That's the path he's put us on. And you're also going to see fiscal crisis at the doorstep, like Europe is saying (sic).

There is a different path. The path I propose is going to get America working again. The path I propose will restore America's greatness so that we're strong abroad, we're strong here, America is coming back. [cheers and applause]

This is the day we've got to come together and lock arms. We've got to work together. I'm counting on you, Virginia. We have to win this. [cheers and applause] Find someone who voted for Barack Obama. Get them to join our team. We're going to take back America and make sure that we remain the hope of the earth. Thank you, guys. Great to be with you. Thank you. Let's win this one. (Sustained cheers, applause.)

Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Fairfax, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315917

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