Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Chesapeake, Virginia

October 17, 2012

[cheers and applause]

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. What a great Virginia welcome. Thank you so much for your warm welcome. What a — I know you've been standing for a while, but there have been some extraordinary people speaking to you.

Wasn't that fun listening to Lee Greenwood? Isn't he — isn't he something else? [cheers and applause] Boy, that was a — that was touching, and I appreciate the attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, speaking to you, and also Congressman Forbes. These are — these are great people and deserve your support and work.

And I wish that George Allen were here today, but we are going to elect him the next senator for the state of Virginia. [cheers and applause]

And Governor McDonnell, he's been everywhere campaigning for me, all over the country. And I — and I appreciate it. I know he's got real support all over this nation. People recognize, as the head of the Republican Governors Association, that he has a real interest in seeing conservative principles like he's applying here apply to other states, and I appreciate him coming here and spending some time with me and welcoming me as he just did. And — [applause] — yeah, quite a guy.

And then — and Dennis Miller. Gosh, this guy — [cheers and applause] — he's — he's got talent, he's got humor and he's got the right candidate this time. So I appreciate that. [cheers and applause]

Now, I have to be honest with you. I love these debates. You know, these things are great — [cheers and applause] — and I think it's interesting that the president still doesn't have an agenda for a second term. Don't you think that it's time for him to — to finally put together a vision of what he'd do in the next four years if he were elected?

I mean, he's got to — he's got to come up with that over this weekend because there's only one debate left on Monday. (Cheers, laughter.) And I — I just think the American people had expected that the president of the United States would be able to describe what he's going to do in the next four years, but he can't.

He can't even explain what he's done in the last four years. [laughter]

I mean, he's spent most of his time trying to talk about how my plan won't work. Well, what about his plan? [cheers] We know his plan has not worked. And last night there were a lot of people asking questions, and I — I think they deserve some answers on a number of fronts.

I — I think — I think it was Jeremy who — who asked a question about how am I going to get a job when I get out of college? Half of the kids in this country not able to get work or college-level work that are coming out of college? I mean, that's a question that needs to be answered.

And then you heard Lorraine saying, when you promised, Mr. President, to put in place an immigration reform bill in your first term — oh, I guess it was me that asked this question, but it was her idea. [laughter] She brought up immigration. You promised to put out in your first term, your highest priority, you'd put out a bill in your first year, but you didn't even file bills. She deserves an answer.

And then we heard from Michael, and — and he asked a question: Why — why should we vote for you, because the middle class is just getting — is getting buried? And I described all the ways in which the president had failed to help lift the middle class. This is an election about the great middle class of America. It's helping people that are poor get into the middle class, helping people in the middle class have a brighter future, and he had no answer as to why he had failed to help the middle class and why they're having such tough times.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (He lost ?)!

MR. ROMNEY: Katherine — Katherine spoke about — about women and women's equality in the workforce, and I asked the question that — that she deserves an answer to, which is why is it that there are 3.6 million more women in poverty today than when the president took office? This president has failed America's women. They've suffered in terms of getting jobs, they've suffered in terms of falling into poverty. This is a presidency that has not helped America's women. And as I go across the country and ask women, what can I do to help, what they speak about, day in and day out, is help me find a good job or a good job for my spouse, and help my kid — make sure my children have a bright future, better schools and better job opportunities.

That's what the women of America are concerned about, and the answers are coming from us and not from Barack Obama. [cheers and applause]

And let me mention — I just want to mentioned Philip . Philip was the first questioner of the night, you may recall. He asked a question about the gasoline prices, and I pointed out they've gone, well, from roughly about a buck 86 a gallon when the president was elected to $4 a gallon, and Philip wanted to know why they've gone up so much. And the president's answer — you remember this? He said, well, the economy has gotten stronger. [laughter]

Now, on that basis, when we have a real recovery, he would suggest gasoline prices are going to up to six (dollars) or $8. Is that what he's saying? [laughter] I mean, this — this was the most classic of the nonanswers of the night. I think it's pretty clear that when it comes to his policies and his answers and his agenda, he's pretty much running on fumes, and the American people want some real answers and a real agenda, and that's why Paul Ryan and I are going to become the next president and vice president of the United States. [cheers and applause]

Now, we take America in two very different places, and I think that's very clear by virtue of what you've heard over the last two debates and probably will over the third as well. One is, the president will put America in a place that has about $20 trillion in debt, killing the American dream for your kids. If I become president, I'm going to take the action to make sure that we cap our federal spending, we limit federal spending as a percentage of our total economy, and we finally get America on track to a balanced budget. [cheers and applause]

If President Obama were re-elected, his spending plan and his borrowing and the debt on that borrowing will cause not only high-income people to see higher taxes, but ultimately, you're going to see middle-income people in this country facing $4,000 more in taxes. When I become president of the United States, I'm going to lower taxes on the middle class — [cheers and applause] — and on small business to help people — [inaudible]. [cheers and applause]

I think he made it clear as well the last couple of debates that if he's re-elected, why, we're going to have "Obamacare," including $716 billion of cuts to Medicare. And I hope you know what that means. [boos] Doctors are saying — half the doctors in America are saying they're not going to take additional Medicare patients because of that. Think about that as you're thinking about retiring, what that means. That's what his cut in Medicare means. And why did he take that money in Medicare? To pay for "Obamacare." I will repeal "Obamacare," replace it and put that $716 billion back. [cheers and applause]

And then — and then — and then there was his jobs plan, or lack of a jobs plan. He just keeps on saying what he said before: We needed a — a stimulus; we need to hire more government workers. There's nothing wrong with working in government, but hiring more government workers doesn't get the private sector growing and put people to work. Raising taxes — that's the other part of his plan, also picking winners and losers. I mean, from my calculation, he made about seven big loans to companies in his first year in office. Of those seven big loans, three of the companies have gone bankrupt, and one more is in — is in fragile condition.

Look, we don't need the government picking winners and losers, or in his case, losers. We need to get back to free people making their own choices in their lives. [cheers and applause] Let the free market choose the winners and the losers.

My plan — and you heard it time and again — I'm going to get this economy going, because I really believe in these things.

All right? I believe that it makes sense to take advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear, renewables. [cheers and applause] I believe in those things; I don't just talk about it. And the president is very — makes it very clear that he does not believe in oil and coal and gas like I believe in oil and coal and gas. And that's why, if I'm president, we're going to get — see North America energy-independent in eight years. [cheers and applause] And if he's president, you will not; you'll see higher and higher prices. That's one difference. [cheers and applause]

There's another place — there's another place I'm going to get the economy going: with trade. We're going to open up more trade, particularly in Latin America, and crack down on China. He said last night that he's filed all these actions against China. And — and he says we've won every one that — that has been adjudicated. Yeah, that's one. That's one. [laughter] All right? My — my own view is that we need to label China what it is, a currency manipulator, and apply tariffs wherever they're stealing our intellectual property or competing in an unfair manner. [cheers and applause]

I want training programs that work for our workers, that fix our schools. Number four, I will get us to a balanced budget. And number five, I'm going to champion small business. We've got to have small business. [cheers and applause] That's where our jobs comes from. And if you have a small business — I disagree with the president — if you have a small business — those of you who work at a small business — you built that business yourself. [cheers and applause] Government didn't build it for you.

And so this election is going to come down to being a choice between new — two different Americas: an America where government makes the rules, where government is a — larger and larger, where it takes more and more from the American people, where it runs more of our businesses and increasingly runs our lives — (chorus of noes); or instead an America where we restore the principles that made the nation that — the nation it is, that we — that we bring back the principles of the Declaration of Independence, recognize that God gave us our rights — [cheers and applause] — and they include life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to pursue happiness — [inaudible]. [cheers and applause]

I have — I mean, I — look, we all value and respect our government and the work that government has to do and recognize its role in our society. But its role is to help encourage free people and to allow dreamers to reach for their dreams; to — to provide education, so opportunity's there; to keep the burden of government from being too large; to keep it from smothering enterprise and freedom and opportunity.

The president doesn't understand the power of the American spirit, I don't think. In some respects, just — he — he says he loves free enterprise, but he thinks government somehow has to get in there and pull all the strings. Government needs to encourage free enterprise, but then let the people pursue their own dreams, pursue their own visions, pursue happiness as they know it.

And I — [cheers and applause] — and I know — I know something about the greatness of the American spirit. I — I'm convinced that despite all the challenges we face, the debt and the joblessness — the — the challenges we face around the world, schools that are not performing as they should, all of those challenges, I'm convinced, are going to be overcome not by government but by the American spirit, by free people doing what needs to be done to make America stronger.

I — I've seen the spirit of America throughout my life. One of my favorite experiences happened a number of years ago that just cemented again in my mind the great qualities of the human spirit that are seen day-in and day-out in American citizens across this country.

I — I happened to be at a — a Boy Scout Court of Honor. [cheers] And — a few Boy Scouts here — Boy Scouters here, all right. [cheers and applause] And I was seated up front at the Formica table, and — and there was a flagpole next to it with a flag on it. And — and the person speaking at the microphone was — was a fellow from Monument, Colorado. And he said that when he was back in Colorado that the Boy Scout troop that he was responsible for wanted to have a special flag.

And so they purchased a flag with gold tassels around it, and they had that flag flown above the Capitol.

And when it came back, the — the boys said, I wonder if we could have our flag go on the space shuttle. They contacted NASA and said, we've got this special flag for our Boy Scout troop. Would you take it up on the space shuttle? Space is at a premium in space, you know, so — [laughter] — I'm sure they were kind of reluctant to take souvenirs for Boy Scout troops. But they — they said, OK, we'll take your flag. So they put it on the shuttle. And he said, you can imagine how proud our boys were to be sitting in their homerooms at school and to watch that shuttle launch and to say to their friends, our flag's on the shuttle. And then they saw it explode in the air.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ohh.

MR. ROMNEY: 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 for months — have you found something of our flag? Nothing, nothing. And then he said in about September — this is about half a year or three-quarters of a year later. He's reading an article in the paper that described some of the debris found from the Challenger disaster. And on there it mentioned something about a flag. So he called NASA again, and they said, in fact we have found something we'd like to present to you.

And so NASA and the Boy Scout troop and their parents all came together for a presentation. And they handed the Boy Scouts a little plastic container. And they opened the container, and inside was their flag in perfect condition. [cheers and applause] And then the Scoutmaster said — [inaudible] — flagpole next to Mr. Romney. And I — I reached over, and I — I grabbed that flag and — and held it out. And it was as if electricity was running through my arms as I thought about the heroes, the patriots, Americans who live for something bigger than themself (sic), who live for pioneering and discovery, for new knowledge — not for themselves but for the world and for America.

That's — that's the nature of who we are.

And look across this country. Every day I see people who live for something bigger than themselves. Pioneers, heroes. I think of single moms wondering how they're going to put food on the table at the end of the week and scrimping and saving to be able to do so. I think of some dads and moms taking two jobs so they can afford to give their kids the same kind of clothes other kids are wearing at school. I — I think about young people coming out of college and putting aside their career because they feel it would be an honor and a duty to serve in our military. I think about parents, Christmas time coming up, saying let's not exchange gifts so we have enough to make sure our kids a great Christmas.

This is — this is who we are as a people. The divisiveness we've seen in Washington has spread across this nation. It's got to stop. Got to bring people together. We can talk about differences on issues without making personal attacks. We got to draw on the great American spirit, encourage people who lift themselves. [cheers and applause]

I'm — I'm in awe — I'm in awe of this community, in awe of those who serve in our military. What a — what an indication of — of willing to live above yourself and beyond yourself. I — I love that line 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 so we recognize you? [cheers and applause] A great military town.

Twenty days, twenty days we decide what kind of an America we're going to have. [cheers and applause] Twenty days we decide how much debt we're going to leave to our kids. Twenty days we decide if we want a real recovery or not. Twenty days we decide whether we're going to fundamentally change America into something we wouldn't recognize or restore to America the principles that made us the hope of the Earth.

I'm counting on you. [cheers and applause] We have 20 days. I'm going to do everything in my power to get America back and I need your help. I thank you for being here. Get out and vote. Get your friends to vote. Let's take back this great country. Let's restore what makes America America. Thank you so very much. Great to be with you! Thank you! (Extended cheers, applause.)

Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Chesapeake, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315816

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