Mitt Romney photo

Remarks in Portsmouth, Ohio

October 13, 2012

MITT ROMNEY: Wow! Thank you so much. [cheers and applause] What a Portsmouth welcome. Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: [chanting] Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! Romney! [cheers and applause]

MR. ROMNEY: Thank you. What a — what a beautiful day. What a wonderful opportunity to be at Shawnee State. Thank you for that great welcome. Thank you, Senator Portman. I'm — I'm delighted as well that we're going to see a new congressman. Where is Dr. Brad — Dr. Brad Wenstrup? Is he hanging around here just —

AUDIENCE MEMBER: He's right over there.

MR. ROMNEY: He's right over here. Thank you, Doctor. Where'd he go? [cheers and applause] We're going to get you elected.

Appreciate the chance to be with you today and spend some time and talk about the course ahead for our great nation. We face some extraordinary challenges, as you know. And you've gathered today not just to listen to a couple of people speak, but to think about the future of the country that you love, and ask yourself how it is that America's going to be able to face up to the challenges we have. I can tell you, I'm a hundred percent confident that we're going to. [cheers and applause] I know the American heart. I've seen the people of this country. I believe in you and I believe in America. [cheers and applause]

Now, as the senator said, this has been an interesting 10 days or so. I had a debate about a week ago. I enjoyed that a great deal. I've got to be honest — [cheers and applause]. I got to ask the president some questions people across the country have been wanting to ask him, like — like why it was with 23 million Americans out of work, struggling to find a good job, that he spent his first two years fighting for "Obamacare," which made it harder to get jobs. I got to ask him why it was with gasoline prices twice as high as when he took office, he cut in half the number of permits and licenses on federal lands and in federal waters for drilling for oil and gas; why it was that with a deficit of a trillion dollars, record-breaking deficit, that he spent $90 billion sending money to green energy companies, some of whom had contributors that had given to his campaign.

I got to — I got to ask him why it was that he had promised that health insurance premiums would go down by $2,000 per family, and yet they've gone up by $2,000 per family.


MR. ROMNEY: And the only answer he had a few weeks ago was this: He said, you know, you can't change Washington from the inside; you can only change it from the outside. We're going to give him that chance on November 6th. [cheers and applause]

And — and I've got more questions now, of course. We may get a chance to ask these as well: why it is with 47 million people on food stamps — you think about that. When he took office, there were 32 million people on food stamps. He's now added 15 million more, all right — more than the population of Ohio. The income of the median family in America has gone down by $4,300 per family. In times like this, what is he talking about? Saving Big Bird. [laughter] When I'm president, I'm going to help save the American family and get good jobs for every American. [cheers and applause] As I look around Portsmouth today, let me tell you, his campaign is about smaller and smaller things, and our campaign is about bigger and bigger crowds fighting for a bright future. [cheers and applause]

Now. there's one part of our debate where we agreed. The president and I agreed that there's a very dramatic difference between the courses we would take for this country to help the middle class of America with more jobs and more take-home pay. His plan is quite different. If he were re-elected, there's no question in my mind but you're going to see higher taxes. The vice president blurted out the truth the other day. He said taxes are going up by a trillion dollars. He's going to raise taxes on the middle class, he's going to raise taxes on small business. I make this commitment: I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America or on small business. [cheers and applause]

If he were re-elected, he would install "Obamacare." (Jeers.) And "Obamacare" will cost the average American family an extra $2,500 a year in premiums. If I get elected, we're going to repeal "Obamacare" and replace it with real reforms which help pull down the cost of health care. [cheers and applause] You know, if he gets re-elected, he's made it clear he's cutting $716 billion from Medicare. I see a few seniors over here; they're — they're — they're shaking their heads here. If I'm — if I'm elected president of the United States, I will restore that $716 billion to Medicare and honor the promises that we've made to our seniors. [cheers and applause]

One of the things I think a number of us find most — find most disturbing about the president's plans is that he anticipates that his budget, cutting our military by hundreds of billions of dollars — (boos, jeers) — and then, through the sequestration plan, an additional hundreds of billions of dollars — about a trillion dollars in total. The Secretary of Defense has said these cuts would be devastating, not just to the families that work in the defense world but also to our national security. He will cut our military capability. I will restore it and make sure America's military remains forever second to none. [cheers and applause]


MR. ROMNEY: And then, of course, it comes down to the economy and jobs. The president is asked time and again, how are you going to get this economy going? With these 23 million people that are struggling to find a good job, how are you going to help them? And he says the same things he's been saying for four years. What he says is, well, we're going to have a stimulus, and we're going hire more government workers — nothing wrong with government workers, but that's not going to get this economy going. And then — then of course he — he says he's going to invest. He likes to pick winners and losers, like Solyndra — as my friend said, he likes to pick losers. (Murmurs of assent.) And then, of course, he — he says he's going to raise taxes. Does anyone really think raising taxes on anyone helps get more people to work? (Chorus of noes.) The president's plan is status quo, more of the same. He calls it forward; I call it forewarned.

[laughter] We know where it leads. We've seen where it leads. We don't like where it lead — needs. We want to have a real recovery, and I'm going to help bring it. [cheers and applause]

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Love you! [cheers and applause]

MR. ROMNEY: There are five things — there are five things I know we can do to get this economy going. Some will have an immediate impact. Number one, we're going to take full advantage of our oil, our coal, our natural gas — [cheers and applause] — our nuclear, our renewables. [cheers and applause] We got 250 years of coal. It can be burned cleanly. This president, when he was running for office, said that if you want to build a new coal plant, you can, but that if you do, you'll go bankrupt. That tells something about his philosophy. Mine is this: We have a lot of coal; we're going to use it. We're going to keep those jobs, and we're going to keep America energy-secure. [cheers and applause]

Drilling for oil and gas — I want to make sure we take advantage of the oil and gas we have on our lands and offshore. I want to make sure we drill up in Alaska. And I want to make sure we bring that pipeline in from Canada. [cheers and applause] And I know — I know you're particularly aware of nuclear as well and recognize that America must have a reliable source of domestically produced uranium — enriched uranium. [cheers] And we need to make sure that Piketon has the most modern technology so that we can provide that source of security for our great country. [cheers and applause] Number one, energy.

Number two, we're going to make trade work for America. Look, it's good for us to open up markets that we can send our goods into. The Chinese and the Europeans have been doing this over the last four years during this president's term. They've negotiated some 44 different trade arrangements with countries around the world. What's this president negotiated? What's he signed in the last four years? Not a one. Not a one. I want to open up new markets, particularly in Latin America, to get our people to work.

But number two, I want to make sure that when people cheat, when they don't follow the rules in trade, we finally hold them accountable. It's time for us to stand up to China for their cheating; it's got to stop. [cheers and applause] You know, the — the president — the president has an opportunity — had an opportunity — was required as of last Friday to officially designate whether China is a currency manipulator. Let me tell you what that means, by the way. When — when a country artificially holds down the value of their currency, it means that the products that they sell to us are artificially cheap. And that means that American companies that are making these — [inaudible] — products — they go out of business if their Chinese products are so much cheaper than the real costs behind them.

And yet over the past several years, the president's failed to call China a currency manipulator. He had the occasion on Friday to come out with that official designation. Do you know what they said? We're not going to make any determination until after the election. (Laughter, boos.) Let me tell you, on day one of my administration, I will label China a currency manipulator. We got to get those jobs back and get trade to be fair. [cheers and applause]

Number three, we're going to make sure our people have good skills so they can compete for the jobs of today with training programs that work, particularly by taking the federal dollars, bringing them back to the states so the states can craft programs that work for their own workers and the jobs that are available in their own communities. [cheers and applause] And we got to fix our schools if people are going to have the right skills. This is a great, great university; I appreciate the work being done here. But boy, our K-12 schools are really struggling in many parts of this country. It's unacceptable that our kids are being educated in a way that's not competitive with other nations. When I become president, I'm going to make sure we put our kids and their parents and the teachers first, and the teachers' union is going to have to go behind. [cheers and applause]

Number four — number four — so number one was energy. Number two was trade that works for America. Number three is making sure we have the skills to succeed. But number four — if you're going to get a small business opened up with a person risking their life savings to start a business, or a big business to come to your community and open up stores and hire people, they're going to have to be convinced we're not on the road to Greece. And if we keep spending a trillion dollars more than we take in every year, we're on the road to Greece. I think it is immoral for us to keep spending more than we take in. I think it's bad economics. [cheers and applause] It kills jobs. When I become president, we're going to cut federal spending, we're going to cap federal spending, and we're finally going to get on track to a balanced budget. [cheers and applause]

And number five, number five, we're going to champion small business. We're going to make it easier for small businesses to grow and thrive. We're going to keep their taxes down, get regulators to help them and get rid of "Obamacare," because it's killing business — jobs for small business. [cheers and applause]

You — you do those five things, you make those five things happen — as I will do, with Paul Ryan's help — we'll get those five things to happen, you do those things, we create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay. We need those jobs. We need that pay. America's coming back. [cheers and applause]

And I'm confident —

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

MR. ROMNEY: — I'm confident (in the ?) future. Let me tell you, I'm confident about what's going to happen. I've had the chance to — all my life to see the great qualities of the human spirit demonstrated in my fellow Americans, time and time again. I'm inspired by the people I see, and know that with a president that's able to lead and draw on the unity of the American spirit and call on American greatness, we'll overcome the challenges we have. There's some big ones: our national debt, the deficits, the fact that we have so many people out of work, take-home pay going down; around the world, tumult in the Middle East. We've faced some extraordinary challenges. But we're going to overcome them.

Let me tell you a couple of examples and tell me (sic) why I know that's the case. One was at the Republican convention, I met someone named Jane Horton. Jane, her husband, Christopher, a sharpshooter in Afghanistan, she's packing a package for him for his birthday. And on the day she's packing that package, a knock comes at the door and she's informed that her husband has been killed in Afghanistan. And instead of falling into despair and despondency, she devotes her life to helping the families of other who've lost their loved ones.

And on the day of the funeral of her husband, there was a demonstration. Do you remember this? There was some misguided people that came to the funerals of our service men and and women to demonstrate? Well, they came to the funeral of her husband. And she was asked, what do you think about this? What do you think about these people?

And this is what she said. Chris died for them to be able to protest. That's the character of great Americans, to recognize our values and to salute them. [cheers and applause] We stand for freedom.

Some years ago, I was at a Boy Scout court of honor. Any Boy Scouts here?


MR. ROMNEY: Good, good. I'd ask the Eagles to raise their hand, but I'm not — I'll do that later. [laughter] At a Boy Scout court of honor, you get your Eagle award, but you also get other awards if you haven't reached your Eagle yet. And I was at the front of the room, at the end of these one long Formica tables. And there was a flagpole there. And I sat down, and the person who was at the podium speaking was the scoutmaster from Monument, Colorado. And he talked about the fact that his Boy Scout troop wanted to have a very special flag. And so they got this flag, they bought it; it had gold tassels around it. They had it flown above the State Capitol, as I recall, and sent it to Washington, D.C., to have it flown above the United States Capitol. And then when it came back, the boys said, you know, wouldn't it be cool if we could send it up on the space shuttle. So they contacted NASA. So would you take our flag on the space shuttle? I'm sure that space is at a premium in space — [laughter] — but NASA said, OK, we'll take your flag. So on the shuttle it went.

And he said, the boys were so proud sitting in school, in their homerooms watching the shuttle launch on TV until they saw the shuttle explode on the TV screen. This was the Challenger disaster. And he said he called NASA about two weeks later and asked, have you got any remnant of our flag? And they didn't. He said he kept calling, week after week after week, finally gave up calling. Sometime, I think late in the year, September or so, he was reading an article about all of the debris from the Challenger disaster, there's some mention of a — of a flag. And so he called NASA and said, did you find some part of our flag? And they said, yes, we'll make a presentation. Let's get together. So NASA and the Boy Scouts came together and NASA presented the scouts with this little plastic case. And they opened the case, and he said, there was our flag in perfect condition.


MR. ROMNEY: And then he said, and that's it on the flagpole next to Mr. Romney at the end of the table. And I reached over and grabbed the flag and held it out. And as I did, it was as if electricity was running through my arm, because I thought of all the people who sacrificed in America for learning, for freedom, for our safety and security.

I thought about those — those heroes on that flight.

I think about all of those who give so greatly for America. We're a nation with individuals who live for something bigger than ourselves, whether it's — whether it's the dad that's got two jobs to make sure that he can buy clothes for his kids so the kids don't stand out at school; whether it's the single mom who wonders how she can put food on the table at the end of the week and so scrimps and — and saves to be able to provide for those kids; whether it's the person who comes out of a great university like this and puts aside their career and says, I'm going to go into the military because my country needs me right now; whether it's the parents who at Christmas time say, you know, let's not give gifts to each other; let's make sure we can save enough to have a great Christmas for our kids. We as Americans live for something bigger than ourself (sic).

I love — I love our servicemen and -women. [cheers and applause] I love the — the sacrifice they make for this country. I see some folks sitting over here who served our country. [cheers and applause] Thank you for your service. Would all those who are members of the armed forces or veterans please raise your hands and please be recognized? Thank you. [cheers and applause] Thank you. Thank you.

I love that — I love that verse from one of our national hymns: "Oh, beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life." I love the fact that in America we live for grand things, for big things. We understand challenges; we rise to the challenge. Now's our time. I happened to be in San Diego on Memorial Day. A group of veterans like these that were seated not far from me — one of them had been the lookout on the U.S.S. Tennessee on the day of Pearl Harbor. He said that his eyes locked on the eyes of the pilot bringing in the bombs that would attack their ships. He was injured in the blast and went on to serve for 33 years in the U.S. Navy, a hero.

I think about this greatest generation, what they earned for us: a safe America, a prosperous America. They held aloft a torch for the whole world to see, a torch of freedom and hope and opportunity. There are not as many of them as there used to be, and they're not as strong because they're getting a little older. It's our turn. We've got to grab that torch. We've got to hold it aloft. [cheers and applause] We've got to make sure that America's strong. [cheers and applause] And I commit to you, when I'm president of the United States — when I am president of the United States — [cheers and applause] — I will keep America strong in our homes, in our economy, in our military. We'll make sure our military's so strong, no one would ever think of testing America. This is a time for us to come back. We're going to take back this country. I need your help. Get out and vote. We need to make sure that we elect people like Josh Mandel. We need to make sure we take back America and keep this land the hope of the earth. I'm counting on you, Portsmouth. Let's make it happen.

Thank you so much. [cheers and applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Mitt Romney, Remarks in Portsmouth, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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