Remarks at a Campaign Event in Orange City, Iowa
Thank you so very much. What a welcome! Iowa knows how to do it right, I'll tell you that. That's quite a welcome. I — [cheers and applause] — thank you, Orange City, Mr. Mayor. [cheers and applause] Thank you, Northwestern College. What a welcome.
Mr. President, thank you for letting me be on your campus today and bringing a few of your students here with you. How many here are going to Northwestern College? Yeah. [cheers and applause]
And thank you to Governor Terry Branstad. Isn't this terrific that a guy who had been governor before and moved on to the private sector, was enjoying his career teaching and — and guiding a — a great institution of higher learning. He says, you know, Iowa needs the real kind of leadership that only he could bring. He came back and ran for — for office, is a great governor, has put Iowa — as he just described — on the top charts in terms of the best places to do business, with jobs being created.
Thank you, Governor Terry Branstad. [cheers and applause]
And thank you to Orange City for doing such a great job on electing people who believe in conservative principles, who love the Constitution and will stand for the principles that America was based upon. Thank you. [cheers and applause]
Now, I have to tell you, I know there's a lot of bad news out there. But I'm looking beyond the bad news. I'm looking over the hill and seeing what's going to happen just down the road a bit. And what's going to happen is America's about to come roaring back. I'm absolutely convinced — [cheers and applause] — look, this is the greatest nation in the history of the earth. The principles upon which this country was founded, those principles are — are — are continuing to guide and inspire the people of America and people around the world. And if we restore those principles, you're going to see our economy come roaring back. And with a strong economy, we can maintain the strongest military in the world.
The world depends on a strong America. I was in Poland some weeks ago and met with Lech Walesa. I came in the — his meeting area there, and he said, Mr. Romney, you must be tired from coming across the — the ocean. He said, why don't you sit down, and I'll talk. And I sat down, and — and he began to speak. And he — what he said for about 15 minutes was — boiled down to this. He said, where is America's leadership? We need America's leadership. America must lead. There's no question about the principles of freedom and personal responsibility and dignity that have always formed the basis of America. Those principles need to be spoken loud and clear and demonstrated on the world stage, and I will do it again. [cheers and applause]
Now, yesterday — yesterday you had the chance, if you wanted to, to watch the president of the United States address the people of America in his acceptance speech. And I read that this morning — you haven't perhaps got a chance to do that. But if you did, perhaps, like me, you found it extraordinarily disappointing, surprisingly disappointing, because his speech four years ago, he laid out a whole series of lofty goals. And unfortunately, he was unable to meet them. As a matter of fact, I can think of very few of the promises he made four years ago that he's kept.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Exactly!
MR. ROMNEY: He — he said he'd raise incomes for people. In fact, they've gone down by $5,000 a family. He said he'd create more new businesses. People who wanted to start a business would be encouraged to do so. But in fact, we're at a 30-year low in new business startups. He was going to get the people back to work. His — you remember with his — his stimulus plan? The stimulus said that if we let him borrow $787 billion, he would hold unemployment below 8 percent. It's been 43 straight months above 8 percent. There are today 23 million Americans that are out of work or stopped looking for work or underemployed. It's a national tragedy. He also said he'd cut the deficit in half. He doubled it.
One promise he kept, though. He said if his energy policies got put in place, the cost of energy would skyrocket, and that's happened. [laughter] This is time for a new president — [cheers and applause] — with a different vision for America.
Now, I was — [cheers and applause] — I was surprised by his address because I — I expected him to confront the major challenge of the last four years, which is an economy which has not produced the jobs that the American people need. I expected him to talk about 23 million people or at least to talk about the unemployed in America. I expected him to talk about the number of families having a hard time making ends meet, the number of middle-income families who've seen the cost of health insurance go up, the cost of food go up, the cost of gasoline go up, even as their incomes have gone down.
I expected him to talk about those things, but he did not. Instead, it was a whole series of new promises which he also won't be able to keep because the policies he believes in and the direction he's pulling will not make America stronger. If President Obama were re-elected, we would have four more years of the last four years, and the American people are going to say to — no to that. [cheers and applause]
Now, there's something else that you've watched in the president's campaign over the past several months, and that is an increasingly divisive and dismissive approach to the American people. It's been a campaign of pitting one American against another, and it's so contrary to our national history and our national spirit. The story of America has been one of the many becoming one. The story of America is a united people coming to build the strongest economy in the history of the world. The story has — a united people that has confronted unspeakable darkness and stopped it from spreading across the earth in the Second World War — and fighting it again, time and again, when — when evil rears its head around the world. As Lech Walesa indicated, America's leadership has been needed and is needed today.
That's been the story of America: People coming together. And one thing I can assure you, if — is that if I'm president of the United States, I will stop this divisiveness and I will do everything in my power to unite the American people.
[cheers and applause]
Now, you might have — you might have expected the president of the United States to lay out a plan for what he'd do to get the economy going again and get people working again. And he didn't do that last night. Again that was surprising to me. I laid out the things I'm going to do to get this economy going. And let me tell you what they are, one by one, five things. You've heard me talk about them before. I want to talk about them some more because I want you to know I'm not just talking about 12 million new jobs. I know how to get the private sector to create 12 million new jobs. I know what it's going to take to do that. [cheers and applause]
Let me tell you what they are. Number one, I'm going to take full advantage of our energy resources, our coal, our oil, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. [cheers and applause] And — and by doing that, we become energy independent, North America does, by 2020. Now, you might think, well, how do you get there? Let me tell you some of the things you do.
One, you take full advantage of what's known as tight oil. That's oil that's in tight formations, and they pump in fluid to push it out, get more oil out. It also means taking advantage of that pipeline from Canada, getting that oil coming out from Canada, the Keystone pipeline. [cheers and applause]
It means turning the Gulf of Mexico back on so we get oil out of the Gulf. And by the way, over the last four years the president has cut the number of permits and licenses on federal land and in federal waters in half. I will double the number of licenses and permits so we get more oil and energy. [cheers and applause]
And natural gas is our big ace in the hole.
We got a lot of natural gas. That natural gas being brought to our transportation hubs, that natural gas being brought to places where — where now they don't have it, particularly in the manufacturing sector, is going to bring jobs back to America.
So number one for me is taking advantage of our energy resources, and that will put millions of Americans back to work.
Number two — [cheers and applause] — and I'm looking here at Steve King. This man needs to be your congressman again. I want him as my partner in Washington, D.C. [cheers and applause]
Number two, I want to make sure that our workers have the skills for this jobs of today and that you young people have the skills you need for the jobs of tomorrow. And that latter request and that latter demand suggest that we finally have to make sure that our schools are run for the benefit of the students, that we put the students and their parents and the teachers first, and the teachers' union, they're going to have to go behind. We've got to have our — [cheers and applause] — our kids run for our — our schools run for our kids.
Let me mention a third, and that's — and that's trade. The third thing I'm going to do is really take advantage of trade opportunities. You see, America is the most productive nation on the planet of the major economic powers. That means we make more stuff per person than any other nation. And because we make more stuff per person, we're the most productive. And therefore it's good for us to trade with other nations. As we do, we'll create more jobs. You know that here in Iowa. You ship products, whether agricultural or manufactured, or services, around the world. It creates jobs here in Iowa to trade.
And this president is the first since Roosevelt, FDR, not to — to seek and receive trade promotion authority to be able to work out new trade deals with other nations.
I'm going to fight for the capacity to create new trade opportunities. And because I spent my life in the private sector, 25 years, I understand what kind of deals are good for America and which aren't.
So I'm going to make trade work for America. And by the way, if nations we trade with decide to take advantage of us unfairly, and cheat, there'll be consequences. I will finally do what needs to be done to make sure China doesn't cheat and take our jobs. [cheers and applause]
Number four — number four — and this is one that is not just economic, it's also moral, as the governor said. And that is it is simply wrong for us — morally wrong for us — to continue to spend massively more than we take in year-in and year-out knowing that my generation will never pay that back, it's all going to be passed on to your generation. We are killing the American dream for our children. It's wrong. It will stop if I'm president of the United States. [cheers and applause]
I've got one more. I've got one more, and that's this. I'm going to champion small business. You see, I happen to understand how it is that small businesses get going and how it is they grow. I — I — as I was driving in to Orange City, I saw a Staples distribution facility there, a big sign said Staples. I hope you saw that. [cheers and applause]
As — as you know, I — I was one of those that helped finance the very first Staples store. I remember going to the store the night before it opened and talking to the various folks that were putting various products on the shelf. We wondered what would happen.
Would people come to our store or not? And I remember talking to one of the founders, and I said, what do we do if no one comes? He said, that's easy — lower prices and advertise more. And I said, well, what happens if they still don't come? He said, that's easy — lower prices some more and advertise some more.
And so that little one store, in a place called Brighton, Massachusetts, has now grown to be hundreds, thousands of stores worldwide, with distribution centers here and all over the country. It's a remarkable story. It's the story of America, how individuals pursuing their dreams in fact built it themselves and — [cheers and applause] — and by virtue of their dreams and a great nation that welcomes dreamers and the support of all the people that work at an enterprise like Staples, they were able to create a business which employs about 90,000 Americans today.
So I know that to get Americans back to work and to create the 12 million jobs I'm dedicated to creating, I have to create the conditions and the environment that encourages entrepreneurs and innovators and small businesspeople to start businesses and to grow them. And for that to happen, there are a couple of things I've got to do.
One, I want them to know that if they're successful, if they're one of the very few of the startups that actually makes it, that they'll be able to keep a good deal of their own profits, their own earnings, and be able to plow it into the business to grow, because if you raise taxes on small business, a lot of them won't even start and those that do won't be able to grow. So for me, holding down taxes on small business is essential.
And number two, I want regulators to know their job, yes, is to catch the bad guys — there will always be bad guys out there; you got to catch them. But you also have to recognize that your job is to encourage the good guys. Regulators and regulations have to encourage small business — [cheers and applause] — make it easier to grow, get behind our enterprises.
And then if you really want to help small business, if you really want to help small business, you have to take that cloud off of them, that cloud that's keeping so many small businesses from adding employment. The Chamber of Commerce carried out a survey. They asked businesses all over America, what's the impact of a particular piece of legislation, and the people came back — 75 percent of the people surveyed said that piece of legislation keeps us from hiring people. That legislation we have to get rid of is known as "Obamacare," and I'm going to get rid of it. [cheers and applause]
Now that doesn't mean — that doesn't mean we're not going to make improvements to our health care system. We — we know that health care's too expensive. "Obamacare" doesn't make it less expensive. When the president ran for office, he said he'd cut premiums by $2,500 per family. "Obamacare" passes. Now, by the way, they're up $2,500 a family. That's a $5,000 difference. And median family income in America of $50,000, about, that $5,000 is a huge impact —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right.
MR. ROMNEY: — has a huge impact. I'm going to go after getting the costs of health care to get reined in, mostly going to make — and by the way, I'm going to do that by taking on malpractice. I'm going to do that by letting individuals be able to buy their own insurance — [applause] — without just getting it from their company.
And — and of course in health care we have to make sure that people who have pre-existing conditions are able to get insured and that — and that folks that — that get sick don't get dropped by their insurance company.
There are a lot of things that we can do to improve, but we don't have to have "Obamacare" that raises taxes, we don't have to have "Obamacare" that cuts Medicare by $716 billion. We're going to get rid of "Obamacare," restore funding to Medicare and keep the promises we've made to our seniors. [cheers and applause]
I have to tell you, I'm excited about what I see ahead. I'm absolutely convinced the American people are going to take a good, careful look at both people running for president and they're going to ask themselves, what do I want going forward? Do I want a president that's continue — going to continue the policies that he put in place over the last four years that led to record levels of unemployment — [booing] — what, now 43 straight months above 8 percent — did you see the jobs report this morning, by the way?
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yeah!
MR. ROMNEY: Ninety — ninety-five thousand, I believe, net new jobs created and almost 400,000 people dropped out of the workforce altogether. [boos] It's — it's simply unimaginable. The president said that by this time we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment. Instead, we're at about 8 percent. And you know the difference that that makes, and how many people would be working in America? Nine million people. Had he been able to keep his promise, had his — had his policies worked as he thought they would, there would be 9 million more Americans working.
If that had been the case, we'd have a lot better budget setting — we'd have a lot better family life in this country, where people are struggling to make ends meet. We wouldn't have many kids wondering, whether when they get home at night mom and dad will be there, because with two jobs, trying to make ends meet, they can't be there. We wouldn't have as many seniors wondering whether they're going to be able to put food on the table at the end of the week. We wouldn't have as many young people wondering whether they can afford college next semester. Wouldn't have as many college graduates asking themself, can I possibly find a job when half today of our college graduates can't find work or work consistent with a college degree.
Look, this is important. Nine million people. This president tried, but he didn't understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do. I will use that experience to get Americans to work again. [cheers and applause]
At the Democratic convention, they had that video that said that we all belong to the government. [boos] Boy, they sure got that one wrong, didn't they? The government belongs to us, and we — [cheers and applause] — and we value the government we have. And we pay for it, too. It ain't free. And — and we want that government to encourage and protect our freedoms, to honor its promises, to create the conditions that make it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs and innovators and students coming out of school to be able to begin their life. That's what I'm dedicated to doing.
I love this country. I love the principles upon which it was founded. I don't want to transform America into Europe. I don't want a bigger and bigger government, more and more intrusive, telling us how to live our lives. I instead want a government which encourages individual initiative and freedom. I will be a president who will never say to you you didn't build it. If you get the honor roll, I'll congratulate you, not the bus driver that got you to school. [cheers and applause] I believe in individual achievement.
Now, one more thing I just want to — want to say to — to you that are going to college here. You've got friends that are going to college here and around — around Iowa and around the country, and you're going to have a big say. You may even have the deciding say as to who the next president is. And I know that the president and his party are going to everything in their power to convince you to vote — to vote for them.
But I want you to ask this question: Who is dedicated to making sure we don't pass on trillion dollars of debt to you? I am. My party is. We're absolutely committed to making sure you're able to live the American dream.
The other party will promise you lots of free stuff. But then ask them how are they paying for it and they say, oh, we're borrowing money from China to do that. [cheers and applause] And guess who's going to pay the interest on that? Guess who's going to pay the interest? Guess who's going to pay it back all their lives? You are.
Look, I want — I want the young — I see a sign up there — 16 trillion (dollars) in debt — thanks for making that; thanks for reminding us. By the way, the — Governor Branstad and I, we won't be paying that back, you see. We'll both be gone when that's paid back. You guys will be paying for that. You're going to pay the interest on it. You're going to pay the interest, and it's going to get larger and larger till that interest swamps even more than our total defense budget. That's what's going to happen unless we get serious about reining in the excesses of government.
The president's answer — we all respect our government, but we don't want it to get so big that is crushes the dreams of the American people, and I will fight for the young people of America by getting us finally on track to a balanced budget. (Extended cheers, applause.)
You guys, we're going to win this thing. This day we're stepping forward, we're taking back America, we're going to make sure that America remains the hope of the earth. We're going to keep America the shining city on a hill Ronald Reagan spoke of. I love this country. I love the people of America. I believe in the people of America, and we're going to take back America and keep it strong.
Thank you so very much! [cheers and applause] Thank you!
Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Orange City, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315933