Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Event in Richmond, Virginia

October 12, 2012

MITT ROMNEY: Wow. That's another great Virginia welcome. Thank you so much. Great to be with you. [cheers and applause] Wow.

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

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you so much. You know, there's another — there's another cheer going around. I — now and then I see these Obama rallies, and they're chanting, four more years. Our cheer is four more weeks, all right — [laughter] — so — [cheers] — we're — we're getting ready for a change. [applause]

I want to — I want to thank Jett Williams for entertaining us, all right? That was wonderful, and I appreciate her doing so. [applause] Bringing her great talent here was just wonderful. I want to thank the governor. Bob McDonnell is here. Maureen, the first lady, is also here. Thank you. [cheers] Our first lady, there she is right there in her red jacket waving her hand — [applause] — thank you. Thank you. Thank you. [applause] Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a wonderful friend, a terrific man, a great leader, is also here.

Thank you. [cheers and applause] And you got a chance to hear from Ken a moment ago. Congressman Forbes — need to re-elect him, right? We're going to get that job done. [cheers and applause] Yeah.

Now, did you get a chance to watch the debate last night? [cheers and applause] Yeah. Yeah, I — I think you might agree with me that there was one person onstage last night who was thoughtful and respectful, steady and poised, the kind of person you want to turn to in — in a crisis. And that was the next vice president of the United States, Paul Ryan. [cheers and applause]

There was also one person on the stage who actually, when asked what he'd do to get the economy going again, had an answer. And he — he laid out our five-point plan to get this economy going. And — and the other candidate, of course, just attacked. But the American people are — are looking for answers, not attacks.

The — the — we had a chance to talk about what was happening in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And — and the unemployment rate there has gone up to 10 percent. And — and we were — recognize this is unacceptable. The fact that we have 23 million Americans out of work — this is not — this is not just something that — that is a statistic. These are real families. These are people with a real — with a real life and are concerned about their future. And that's why Paul Ryan and I care about each and every American that's out of work, and we're going to do everything in — in our power to get Americans back to work again. [cheers and applause]

Now, the — the vice president defends the status quo. We're going to fix the status quo and make things better.

Now, by the way, yesterday I raised some questions about Benghazi and the — and the tragedy that occurred there. And there were — there were more questions that came out of last night because the vice president directly contradicted the sworn testimony of State Department officials. He — he's doubling down on denial.

And — and we need to understand exactly what happened, as opposed to just have people brush this aside. When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the testimony — sworn testimony of State Department officials, American citizens have a right to know just what's going on. And we're going to find out. And this is a time for us to make sure we do find out. [cheers and applause]

Now, I must admit I also enjoyed my own debate about a week ago. It was a good experience. [cheers and applause] Like — like last night, it was a debate of substance. And I got to ask the president some questions that people across the country have been wanting to ask the — the president. I — I got to ask him why was it — with 23 million Americans struggling to find a job, why was it he focused his first three years on "Obamacare," which makes it harder to create jobs? Why was it, with — with gasoline at — at about twice the price as when he came in, that he couldn't half the number of permits on — for drilling on public lands, why he said no to the Keystone pipeline? I asked more questions, just like why was it, with a trillion-dollar deficit, he found it in his — in his heart to put $90 billion into green energy companies that in many cases were contributors to his campaign, at least the owners of those — those businesses were. And why — and why was it, with — what he had promised during his campaign, that health insurance premiums he'd bring by $2,500 a year; instead they went up by $2,500 a year?

And — and so — you know, I know we've heard his answers over the campaign. He says, look, you can't fix Washington from the inside; you can only do it from the outside. Well, we're going to give him that chance, all right? [cheers and applause]

And you know, with some 47 million Americans on food stamps — a record number, by the way. When he took office there were 32 million on food stamps, now 47 (million). Their lives are not getting better. They're not better off than they were four years ago. And so with that set in, with one out of six people living in poverty, with half our kids coming out of college not able to get a job or a college level job, his campaign has been focusing on saving Big Bird. [laughter] My campaign is going to focus on saving the American family and getting us good jobs and rising incomes again. [cheers and applause]

Now, I think the president and I could agree on some things. We can agree that if he's re-elected, he's going to raise your taxes. And I don't just mean, by the way, taxes on a small number of people. There's been a study done recently that shows that with all the spending he's planning and of all the interest on the debt that's associated with all that spending that he's going to have to raise taxes on middle-income Americans again. He's already done that with "Obamacare," but he's going to have to keep raising taxes of middle-income people. Let me tell you this: I will not raise taxes on the middle class of the America, and I won't raise taxes on small business. [cheers and applause]

If he were to get re-elected, of course, he's going to install "Obamacare" and — [booing] — I just spoke with one of the customers here at this mobility super center and he said to me, look, you've — you've got to stop "Obamacare." There are a lot of reasons for wanting to do that. One is that "Obamacare" is going to cost you an extra $2,500 a year. That's according to the Congressional Budget Office. It's going to make — it's going to make insurance that much more expensive.

If I'm president, we're going to replace "Obamacare," we're going to repeal "Obamacare," and we're going to do something that helps hold down the cost of health care. [cheers and applause]

We saw something else. If the president were to get re-elected, he will cut Medicare by $716 billion. [boos] I'll put that money back into Medicare and make sure that we honor the promises that we made to our seniors. [cheers and applause]

And something else that was spoken about last night in some depth, and that is the president has a budget that cuts our military by hundreds of billions of dollars — [booing] — and then — and then this sequester idea that came from the White House, that cuts it hundreds of billions more. The — the secretary of defense has said that these cuts would be devastating.

Let — let me tell you, I know the president is — is — is pleased to see us reduce our military spending. I am not pleased to see that. I want to make sure that we continue to spend for a military that's second to none in the world. I will restore — [cheers and applause] — our military budget and not cut our military commitment.

Now — now, there's one more issue where there's a big difference, and that is — well, there are a lot of issues, but one more I'm going to talk about right now, and that is with regards to jobs. The president keeps being asked what he's going to do to try and get the economy going and to create a real recovery. And — [chuckles] — I hear "nothing" back there. [laughter] Actually, he wants to do the same thing he's been doing, which is he wants a stimulus and hire more government workers. There's nothing wrong with government workers, but that's not going to get the private sector working again.

He wants to invest, he says, you know, and — as — as some people say, he wants to pick winners and losers. I think he just wants to pick losers, from what I can tell. [laughter] And, of course, he wants to raise taxes. I don't think there's anyone out there who thinks that you create more jobs by raising taxes on people.

So that's his plan. It's a status quo plan. And I know where it leads. It leads to high unemployment, no wage growth and of course to fiscal calamity down the road for our nation.

My plan, as Paul Ryan described last, has five major parts. Number one, we're going to take full advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, our renewables. [cheers and applause]

Number two, we're going to make trade work for us. We're going to open up new markets for our goods around the world, but we're going to crack down on China when they cheat, and they have. We're getting those jobs back here. [cheers and applause]

Number three, we're going to have training programs that work for us. Right now, there are 47 — 47 different federal job training reporting to eight different agencies. The overhead has to be extraordinary. I want to take those dollars and make sure they come back to each state. Virginia gets its fair share, and the people in Virginia create their own training programs that work for the people here in Virginia. [cheers and applause]

Number four, I want to make sure that people who are thinking of investing in America and building a new facility and hiring people or entrepreneurs thinking about taking their life savings and starting a business, that they're willing to do so because they know we're not on the road to Greece. And what we're doing right now with this massive spending, far more than we take in, frightens people from investing in the future of America. I will do this: 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 number five — number five, I'm going to champion small business. We're going to help small businesses like this one — [cheers and applause] — and others around this country. That's where jobs come from. We're going to get people working again by holding down taxes on small business, by getting regulators to help small businesses and, by the way, to take that big cloud off of small business.

Seventy-five percent of small businesses surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said that because of "Obamacare," they're less likely to hire people. That's one reason we're going to repeal it and replace it with real reform. [cheers and applause]

Now I'm confident that America, America is going to overcome the challenges we have. I know we face real challenges at home with so many people out of work and with schools that are not performing as they should with — with deficits and people spending massive more — our government, rather, spending massively more than we take in every year.

We've got real challenges. Got challenges around the world as Iran keeps getting closer and closier — closer to — to its — to a nuclear status.

And with all those challenges, some people get a little discouraged. I'm actually — I'm optimistic. I've seen the American people facing tough times. We're a people that lives for something bigger than ourselves.

I — I was at the Republican convention not terribly long ago when I met Jane Horton there. Jane's husband, a sharpshooter in Afghanistan, on the day she was packing a — a package to go over him for his birthday, she got a knock at the door and was told that he had been killed there. And instead of falling into despair and depression, she went to work to try and help other families who had lost loved ones in these conflicts.

And on the day of the funeral, her husband's service, some of these misguided souls that were protesting America's military came to the service where her husband was going to be interred. And she was asked what she thought about those people protesting at his funeral. And she said this, she said, Chris died for them to be able to protest. This says something about the character of the American heart and our great people. [cheers and applause]

I learned something about this throughout my life, about the great qualities of the human spirit that you see demonstrated in the American heart. I had the chance some years ago — I was working with the Boy Scouts, and we had a Court of Honor. Some of you know what that is. It's where the young men get their Eagle Scouts and — [cheers] — we've got some scouters here — and other awards. There was a long formica table and I was seated at the end of it next to the American flag.

And the flag — the flag — excuse me — the guy who was giving the speech was a guy who was a scout master from Monument, Colorado. And he took to the podium and he said that his Boy Scout troop wanted to have an American flag that was really special. So they bought one with gold tassels around it, they had it flown above the state capitol, as I recall, they sent it to Washington, where it was flown above the U.S. Capitol, and then they contacted NASA and said, we'd like our flag to go up on the space shuttle.

I imagine space is at a premium in space, you know — [laughter] — so they're not given to taking souvenirs for every Boy Scout troop, but the took this flag, put it on the space shuttle. He said the boys were so proud, as they were seated in their classrooms at school watching the shuttle launch — shuttle launch, knowing their flag was onboard, and then they saw the launch explode. They saw the shuttle explode in the air there.

And he said that he — he contacted NASA about a couple of weeks after the disaster and said, have you found any remnant of our flag? They said no. He said he called about once a week for months, asking, have you found anything? They hadn't found anything.

And then he said he was reading an article — I think it was a little over half a year later, in September, reading about the debris that was associated with the Challenger disaster and what had been found, and in that description it mentioned something about a flag.

So he called NASA again, said, did you find our flag? They said, well, yes, come — come, we'll make a presentation to you.

So NASA and this troop came together, and he said they were presented with a plastic container. And they opened the container, and there was their flag in perfect conditions.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Oooh! [cheers and applause]

MR. ROMNEY: And he said, that's it on the flagpole next to Mr. Romney at the end of the table. And — [chuckles] — I reached over, and I — I grabbed that flag and held it out, and it was as if electricity was running through my arm. As — as I thought about the men and women in our space program who've put themselves in harm's way for discovery, for innovation, for pioneering, for us, living for something bigger than themselves. I — I think of the single moms who — who work hard to raise their children and give them dignity and — and — and devote themselves to their children. I think of the — of the dad who's got two jobs to make sure that he can buy the kind of clothing his kid needs so he won't stand out in school.

I think of the — of the kid coming out of high school who says, you know what, instead of going on to college, I'm going to — I'm going to enlist in the military, and I want to serve our country. I love those who serve. I appreciate the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. I can't understand the president, who's commander in chief, cutting our commitment to our military. This is a time for us to have a strong military, not to weaken it. America's military must be so strong no one would ever think of testing it. [cheers and applause]

I love those — I love those words in one of our national hymns: O beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life. Would our veterans and members of the armed services please raise your hands?

Wow! [cheers and applause] Look at that group.

We're a nation of people who give ourselves to something bigger than ourselves — our family, our community, our faith, our country. It's what makes America America, what gives us the vitality to overcome the challenges we have.

And now we face those challenges. We stand on the shoulders of the "Greatest Generation." They brought us a nation that's prosperous and free, and they held a torch aloft for the whole world to see, a torch of freedom and opportunity and hope. They held it high.

It's not America's duty to hold up that torch, it's America's honor to hold that torch. But now there are not as — [cheers] — there are not as many of them as there used to be, and they're not — not able to hold it as high as they used to be able to, and so it's our turn. We've got to hold on to that torch and lift it for the world. [cheers and applause]

And I commit to you this: If I — when I become president of the United States — [cheers and applause] — I will do — I will do everything in my power to strengthen America. I'll do everything in my power to strengthen our values and our homes, to strengthen our economy, to make sure our economy can fund a military second to none.

This is critical time for America. We must let the light of that torch burn bright in our homes, in our communities, in our businesses, throughout the world, as our men and women serve.

I love this country. I believe in America. This country's coming back. [cheers and applause] Thanks to you, we're going to win in November. Virginia's going to get me the White House, and we're taking back America.

Thank you so much. [cheers and applause] Great to be with you! Thank you!

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

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