Remarks at a Campaign Event in Van Meter, Iowa
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Oh, thank you. [cheers and applause] You guys are great to be out here on a day like this with this wind. Oh, my goodness. Thank you for joining me today. It is exciting. Thank you, Iowa. What a welcome. [cheers and applause] And thank you to Congressman Latham and Congressman King and also to Senator Grassley. What great leaders you have here in this state. What great men. [cheers and applause]
And I know there is a — there is a lot of attention being paid to the campaign these days, and there is — there is a good reason for that. I mean, when you have so many people having tough times — incomes are down, as you know, by about $4,300 a family across America. About 23 million Americans, still looking for a — a good job. You've got college graduates this year, came out last spring, who are still looking for work.
About half the college graduates that came out couldn't find a job or a college-level job. Food stamps — when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps. Now there are 47 million people on food stamps. I mean, these are — [booing] — these are tough times with real serious issues. So you have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs and saving our future — [cheers and applause] — and also — and also saving the family farm. I — I — I come to this place recognizing that — gee, not every John Deere harvester has an R on it like that, but I appreciate — [laughter] — I appreciate that. I — I come today to talk a bit about — about what's happening in the — in the agriculture community and what things we can do to — to do a better job, because this is another place where the president and I have very different points of view about what we do to — to make a difference for — for farming and for the rural communities and — and for Iowa overall, for our whole nation.
One relates to taxation, by the way. The president has this idea that he wants to raise the tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent. And that won't be good for farms. My own view is I want to take that tax rate down. I want to take it from 35 percent to 28 percent and help American farmers and small business. [cheers and applause] And you know — you know he has a plan for the death tax. He's planning on raising the death tax pretty significantly. My own view is we ought to kill the death tax. You paid for that farm once. You shouldn't have to pay for it again. [cheers and applause]
Now, now and then a farmer is successful enough to save a little money. And when you do save your money, the president has this idea of raising your taxes a lot on your savings, your interest and dividends and capital gains, if you're lucky enough to have them.
My view is that if you're making $200,000 a year and less, you should pay no tax whatsoever on interest, dividends or capital gains. [cheers and applause]
Now, the president and I have different records when it comes — and viewpoints when it comes to exports. You recognize that about a million jobs in this country are associated with agricultural exports, and over the last four years the president has signed no new trade agreements with any nation around the world. Even as China and European nations have put together some 44 different agreements, he's done none. What I'm going to do is make sure that I devote my time to getting trade promotion authority, that I use that authority to negotiate new deals, that we open new markets for American farms and for American goods of all kinds, because we can compete on a level playing field with anyone in the world. [cheers and applause]
Now, there are differences on regulations, by the way, and you know this. The regulatory burden under this administration has just gone — has just gone crazy. The president's regulations as it relates to farming are kind of interesting. One is the EPA tried to get into — well — [inaudible] — EPA — the government tried to get into regulating rainwater in ditches on farms, all right? It used to be that there was rainwater in Iowa, and people cared about that. [laughter] We hope it's coming back soon. [laughter]
But in addition, they of course want to regulate dust. They want to impose duplicate roles — rules, rather, on — on pesticides. There was an actually an effort — you recall this — to prevent teenagers from being able to work in certain types of functions on farms. And then — and then there's pushing cap and trade. I understand if they push cap and trade, it will not only massively impact the income of farms, it'll take millions of acres out of farming.
My own view on regulation is very different. You have to have regulation; you need regulation for markets to work effectively. But I am going to cut back on regulation. I'm going to put a cap on regulation, and any new major regulation will have to be approved by Congress. I'm not letting the politicians off the hook. [cheers and applause]
Now, energy has a big — big impact on the farm as well. About 20 percent of the cost on a farm is associated with energy — not just fuel but also fertilizer, which is, of course, energy-based. And of course, you know his record. If you watched that debate, you know that he has cut the — the number of permits and licenses on federal land for drilling for oil and gas — and in federal waters — by about half. My view is I will double those permits. [cheers and applause] I'll make sure we get the energy that we need. And I'll build that pipeline from Canada as well. [cheers and applause]
And let me — let me just also note that, you know, people have been waiting a long time for a farm bill. And the president has to exert the kind of presidential leadership it takes to get the House and the Senate together and actually pass a farm bill. That's something I will devote my time to, to make sure that we get that bill passed so farmers know what they can expect.
There are big differences between the president and me. He has no plan for rural America, no plan for agriculture, no plan for getting people back to work. And I do. You know I've spoken about it all over the country. And I'm going to make sure I help the American farmer and I help our economy and I get America working again. [cheers and applause] And — and I'm confident it's going to work. I'm confident that despite our challenges, America's going to come roaring back.
I've had the occasion over my life to see some of the great qualities of the human spirit. I've seen them manifest in — in young people and older people and Americans of all backgrounds and ethnicities and ages. I — I was serving as a pastor in my church, something we do part-time in my church.
And I — I had the occasion to make friends with a family from a town a couple of doors away, the Oparowski family. He's firefighter in Medford, Massachusetts, his wife a homemaker. They have a couple of boys.
They informed me after a number of visits I made to their home that — that their 14-year-old son had been diagnosed with leukemia. And as time went on, it became very clear that there was not going to be a cure. And — and so I met with David, became his friend. He — on one occasion, I said, what — if you could have anything you wanted, what would you like to have? He said, fireworks. So I went up to New Hampshire, where they're legal, and got a big box of fireworks. [laughter]
And — and then I sat down with him one day in his — in his bedroom. He was laying on the bed there, and — and he said, what comes next? What comes next? And — and I explained to him what I believe about what comes next after this life. And then later, as he was in the hospital, he — he contacted me and said, now, you went to law school. Yes, I did. I don't practice the law; I'm not licensed to practice in Massachusetts. I hope this won't get me in trouble. But he said, Mitt, would you — would you come to the hospital and write my will for me? And so I said, of course. And I got one of those big legal pads and went to his hospital room, and he laid out what he wanted to do. He said, my fishing pole goes to this guy, and my skateboard goes to that guy, and my rifle is going to my brother.
And through all of this, what astonished me was to watch a man of his young age with such calm and — and serious and sober sentiment. He wasn't despondent. He wasn't depressed. He — he was looking forward to the life hereafter. And I thought, as I saw some years later a — a phrase that seemed to capture my memory of David Oparowski: "Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose."
This is something that we share in this country, men and women of clear eyes and full hearts, and America can't lose. [cheers and applause]
I learned — I learned recently about another fellow that I met that I might mention to you. I — this is kind of a strange story, so bear with me, here. I — I got — I got one of these mailers that was put in my — in my mailbox at — at Christmas time a couple of years ago saying there was going to be a Christmas party for the neighborhood and everyone was invited.
And I didn't look very carefully at the address, but — but later that night, when the Christmas party was supposed to happen, I noticed that the — that the house just kitty-corner for us had all the lights on, and people were on the porch. They were kind of looking at — over at our house, and I thought, oh my goodness, I wasn't planning on going to this, but we'll look like we're not social if we don't show up. So I — [laughter] — I said to Ann, we've got to go to this party. I got this flier about the neighborhood party. We got to go over there. So she said OK.
We — we went over and knocked on the door. They let us in, good to see you. We came in. They had dinner — we had dinner together and got our pictures with everybody. Turns out this wasn't the neighborhood party. [laughter] This was a — this was a family having a party with their friends, all right? [laughter] And so we were a little embarrassed, but — [laughter] — they treated us well nonetheless, and — [laughter] — and I got to meet some really interesting people. [laughter]
One — one of them was a guy, actually, from my home state of Massachusetts and a relatively young guy compared to me. And he was a former Navy SEAL. He was living in San Diego. And learned about him. He talked about his life. He also — he skied a lot. He skied in some of the places I had, and we had a lot of things in common. He told me that he kept — keeps going back to the Middle East. He cares very deeply about the people there. He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there.
You could imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on September 11th.
And it — it touched me, obviously, as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life in the service of his fellow men and women. He — according to the reports on CNN International that I read, he was actually in a different building, in an annex, a safe place somewhere else across town, when he and his colleagues there heard that the consulate was under attack. And they went there. They didn't hunker down where they were in safety. They rushed there to go help. This is the American way. We go where there's trouble. We go where we're needed. [cheers and applause] And right now we're needed. Right now the American people need us.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: They do, Mitt!
MR. ROMNEY: It's a critical time for us. And I commit this to you. If I — when I become president — [cheers and applause] — when I become president, I will do everything in my power to strengthen once again the American farm, to strengthen the family farm. I'll do everything in my power to strengthen our economy, to create good jobs and rising incomes again. I'll strengthen the values in our homes and communities. I'll strengthen our economy. And I'll make sure our military is second to none in the world. I will not cut our military commitment. [cheers and applause]
And I know people ask you to do a lot of things. We come here in politics. You're — you get so used to politicians, I don't know how you deal with us. But I — [laughter] — everything from the straw poll and the caucuses and the primaries and now the general election. But I want to ask you for a commitment, and that is for you to — to find at least one person who voted for Barack Obama last time and convince them to come join more time. It'd be fine, more than one. I need your help to do that — [cheers and applause] — because our kids need it, the 23 million people out of work need it, need our help, and by the way, the world needs us.
This is a critical time around the world. We stand on the shoulders, in some respects, of the greatest generation. I was at a celebration on Memorial Day in San Diego, and — and a number of veterans there. We had four from the second world war on the stand, one of them a — a veteran who was on the USS Tennessee, and he was the lookout on the USS Tennessee on the day of Pearl Harbor. He said his eyes locked on the eyes of the pilot that brought in the armament that hit their ship and other ships. He went on, however, even though he was injured, to serve for 33 years in the United States Navy.
And I think about those men and women who have served us in the greatest generation. There are not as many as there used to be because of their age, and — and those that there are can't hold the torch quite as high as they used to. It's a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. America has held that torch aloft for a long, long time.
Now it's our turn. We've got to grab that torch — [applause] — we're going to do it together. We're going to take back this country. We're going to keep it strong. We're going to get America going again. [cheers and applause]
You guys, Iowa is going to help elect me the next president of the United States, and I will make sure that I hold you in highest esteem and keep America proud of everything we are. Thank you so very much. [cheers and applause] Thanks, you guys. Great to be with you today. Thank you. [cheers and applause]
Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Van Meter, Iowa Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315858