Remarks with Ann Romney at a Campaign Event in Apopka, Florida
MITT ROMNEY: That is a Florida welcome! Thank you so much! [applause] Thank you! You warm my heart, I've got to tell you. [applause]
AUDIENCE: Romney! Romney! Romney!
MR. ROMNEY: What an honor for us to be here with you this evening. How it humbles us to see so many people come out and care about our country so deeply that you'd spend your evening with Ann and me. I've brought someone special with me, as you can tell. This is a — [applause]. This is a young lady who went to the same elementary school I did. I didn't notice her then.
But when we got to high school and she was just about 16, we went to a party together. She was with someone else and I decided that I wanted to take her home with me, so I — or to her home rather, to take her off — [laughter]. Well, that was later. That was later. So I said to the guy that she came to the party with — I said, you know, I live closer to Ann than you do. Can I give her a ride home for you? And he said, sure. And we've been going steady ever since. My sweetheart, Ann Romney! [applause]
ANN ROMNEY: Wow! What a crowd! This is so — as Mitt said, it's very humbling to see so many people come out and believe in America. We believe in America. [applause] I think back of all of us that have had ancestors that have come to the shores of America with the promise of America. I had a grandfather that started working at age 6 in the coal mines of Wales. He came to America with nothing in his pocket but hope and dream. We have to do everything we can to keep that promise of America alive for all Americans. [applause]
I have seen Mitt in every capacity — as a husband, a father, a businessman, a governor, someone that ran the Olympics. And I will tell you something. This man does not fail. [applause] I can't wait to let him get the keys to the economic engine to drive this economy so that we can get better jobs for all of Americans because we care about all Americans. [applause] So let's hear from the next president of the United States. [applause]
MR. ROMNEY: Thank you! Thank you, Congressman Connie Mack, the next U.S. senator from Florida. Thank you, Connie. [applause] Thank you former congressman Artur Davis. What an extraordinary man and leader. And I appreciate his willingness to support my campaign and help me across America. Thank you, Artur. [applause] Thank you to one of the men that has co-chaired my effort here in Florida, your chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater. Thank you, Jeff.
Thank you to Congressman Dan Webster. He's going to get reelected by the good people in his district. Thank you. [applause] Now, you may have heard that earlier this week we were in Denver — Ann and I were. And I enjoyed the debate a good deal, I've got to tell you. [applause] It was an opportunity for me to express my own views on issues I care about deeply, to do so without the filter of the media or people deciding which clip to watch or not watch or even 30-second ads. But instead, I got to describe my vision for America.
And I was pleased that I had as positive a response as that which came. I was also pleased that I got to ask the president some questions I know people across America have wanted to ask him, like — [applause]. And for instance, with 23 million Americans out of work, why it was when he took office instead of focusing on jobs, he instead focused on "Obamacare." I asked him that question. I asked him another question. I asked him why it was with gasoline prices headed higher and higher, he cut back on the number of permits, well, both to drill onshore and offshore.
I got to ask him why it was that with our immigration system as broken as it is, why it was that he didn't do what he said he'd do in his first year, which was in his first year he said he'd put in place immigration reform policies that would deal with this issue and he didn't do that. That's a question I didn't ask in the last debate but I hope I'll get a chance in the next debate. [applause]
I got to ask him about that $90 billion he gave out to companies in the green energy world, places like Solyndra and Inter-One and Fisker and Tesla, some of whom were contributors to his campaign and pointed out that that $90 billion could have hired 2 million school teachers instead. [applause]
I got to ask given the fact that in the past he called the deficits under his predecessor un-American and unpatriotic, why it was that the deficits he put in place were twice as large. I got to ask why when he promised the people of America that he'd bring down your health insurance premiums by $2,500 he instead saw it go up by $2,500. So I asked him those questions and you heard his answers, or his non-answers. [applause]
And I guess the reason he had a hard time answering those particular questions was because — well, as something he said just the other day. He said, you know, you can't fix Washington from the inside. You can only fix it from the outside. We're going to give him that chance on November 6th. [applause] And there were places we agreed. He and I agreed that this was a critical election for the country. This is an election which will decide the course of America not just for four years but for a good deal longer.
This is not just a race between two individuals or even two parties. It's a race to define what America is going to be over the coming decades. The president has his vision, the place he'd take it. I have a different vision. Under his vision — [applause]. Under his vision, you're going to see higher and higher deficits adding up to larger and larger debt. In my view, that will kill the American dream. Instead, my vision is to balance our budget, get us on track to slow down government spending and make sure our kids have a bright and prosperous future. [applause]
Under his vision, he's going to raise taxes. The vice president blurted out the truth the other day. He said, you know, they're going to raise taxes a trillion dollars. And of course, if you count the "Obamacare" taxes, it's really $2 trillion they're planning on raising taxes.
MR. ROMNEY: And then there was a study that was done just this last week in which they calculated how much interest there's going to be on the debt he's putting in place and they calculate because of all that interest expense and all the spending he's doing that he's going to also raise taxes on middle income families by an average of $40,000 per family. Look, my plan is not to raise taxes on anyone and I'm going to reduce taxes for middle income Americans. [applause]
And he made it very clear, of course, that he's planning on installing "Obamacare".
And by the way, the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that "Obamacare" will cost you about $2,500 more than a standard insurance policy. That's the additional cost to "Obamacare". By the way, he keeps promising all these wonderful things you'd get in "Obamacare" for free. Then he doesn't tell you that the policy's going to cost $2,500 a year more. So it's not for free. If I'm president, we're going to repeal "Obamacare" and replace it with real health care reform. [applause]
And as you know, the president has made it clear that he's going to go ahead with $716 billion in cuts to Medicare. And by the way, that's $44 billion of cuts right here in Florida. And that would mean, incidentally, that 540,000 of our current Medicare beneficiaries — 540,000 of our seniors that have Medicare Advantage would lose Medicare Advantage here in Florida. My plan is to preserve and protect Medicare. I'll put that money back. [applause]
And I think — I think what was most striking about the president's comments was that when it came to jobs and the economy, he doesn't really have anything to add to what he's been doing over the last four years. I don't think we can afford four more years like the last four years. [applause] He in fact wants — he wants another stimulus. How'd that last stimulus work out? And of course, he's intent on having the government make investments, pick winners and losers — or in his case, losers. [applause]
And then, he wants to hire — he wants to hire more government workers. There's nothing wrong with people who work for our government. But that's not going to get this economy going. He's in favor of the status quo. And you understand what's happening in this country. Half the kids graduating from college can't find work or college level work. One out of six Americans has fallen into poverty. When he took office, 32 million Americans were on food stamps. Now, 47 million Americans are on food stamps.
Every year the median income in America has gone down. It's down $4,300 a family. And with average family income of around 50,000 bucks, that hurts. Gasoline prices are up twice what they used to be. These are tough years for the middle class and for the poor in America. If we calculated, by the way, our unemployment rate in a way that was consistent with the way it was calculated when he came into office, it'd be a different number.
You see, if the number of people — if the percentage of the American population that were in the workforce were the same today as the day he was elected, our unemployment rate would be above 11 percent. This is inexcusable in a nation that's so prosperous as ours that four years of a presidency has not been able to get America back on track. He can't. He doesn't know how. I know how and I will get the job done. [applause]
I will do — I will do five things. I will do five things that will get this economy humming again. Number one, I'm going to take full advantage of our coal, our oil, our gas, our nuclear and our renewables. [applause] All those permits and licenses the president's cut back on, I'm going to double and I'm going to open up Alaska for us to be able to get oil from there too. [applause] And we're going to build that pipeline from Canada if I have to do it myself. [applause]
That's going to create about 3-1/2 to 4 million jobs, taking advantage of our energy, not just energy jobs but other jobs that are in manufacturing and that use energy. We're going to bring those jobs back home. Number two, I want more trade, particularly with Latin America. I'm going to push for more free trade so we can sell our goods around the world. But by the way, if nations cheat — and China has cheated — I'm going to stop it. We've got to put a stop to this kind of cheating. [applause]
Number three — number three, we have to have training programs that prepare our workers today for the jobs of today and schools that prepare our kids for the jobs of tomorrow. And for that to be the case — well, let me tell you. Right now, there are 47 different federal job training programs, 47. They report to eight different agencies. There's so much overhead and overlapping responsibility. I want to do this. I want to take all that money and I want to give Florida its fair share and say you create the programs that work best for your own people. [applause]
And education — education, Florida can teach the nation some lessons on education. Jeb Bush, what a great governor. He was serious on education. [applause] He made sure that schools are graded A through F so parents know which schools are working and which ones aren't. He made sure that — and I'm going to do the same thing, by the way. I want all our schools across the nation to be graded A through F so parents know which schools are good or not.
And then he also gave parents more choice here. If a school was failing, kids were able to go to a school of their choice. The federal government sends out a lot of money to schools — IDEA money, Title I money for disabled and poor kids. I want to make sure those dollars don't just go to states and school districts. I want them to go to the kids, if you will, so the parents are able to choose the school their child goes to. We have to put the children and the parents and the teachers first and the teachers union behind. [applause]
Number four — number four, I've already mentioned it. You're not going to get entrepreneurs to risk their life savings to start a business or companies to come to Florida or other states and expand and hire more people if they think we're on the road to Greece. And let me tell you, if this president keeps spending a trillion dollars or more — or more than we take in, than we take in every year — you're going to see us on the road to Greece and you're going to see a financial crisis down the road. I will not let that happen. I will cut federal spending and I will get us on track to a balanced budget. [applause]
And number five — number five, there is one sector of the private sector that's created two-thirds of American jobs over the last 15 years. And this is the sector I'll champion — small business. We have to have small business. [applause] Small businesses is a source of jobs. It's also a great source of opportunity. Hispanic Americans are even more active in starting new businesses than the population at large. We need to help people with small business. That means keeping taxes down on small business, getting regulators to encourage them and making sure we get rid of "Obamacare." It kills jobs and small business. [applause]
Now, I want you to know how confident I am in the future of this country. I have seen the American spirit. Throughout my life, throughout this campaign, I've met people who epitomized what it is that makes America seem such a unique place and such an exceptional nation. We're an entrepreneurial people. We're a hardworking people. We'd rather work than take vacations. I know some people, they take vacations and they're out there doing something every minute. They just want to be going all the time. It's part of our national spirit. We work hard.
And we — and we're always looking for opportunities to start things and fix things and improve things. It's just who we are. But one of the things I love most about this country is the great quality of the human spirit — our patriotism for America. I've seen it everywhere I've gone [applause] I had the thrill of going over to Afghanistan and Iraq when I was still serving as governor. Both conflicts were going on at that point. And I went from base to base and I'd say hello to the troops that were from my home state in Massachusetts. And I'd — there's someone from Massachusetts. Hi, out there.
And I'd say to them, by the way, if you'd like me to call your mom or your dad when I get home, take out — or your spouse, take out a piece of paper and write down their name and telephone number and I'll call them when I get home. Well, by the time I left the area — Iraq and Afghanistan — I had 63 pieces of paper in my pocket. And I thought, this is going to take a while to make it through all these calls.
I got home the night before Memorial Day. And on Memorial Day morning, I thought before the kids get up and we spend some time together with the family, I'll make a few calls and just get this started. On about the second or third call, the woman that answered the phone said, oh, Governor Romney, I thought that might be you calling. [laughter]
And I said, what do you mean? And she said, well, you know, you made some calls this morning to some spouses and then they emailed, you know, their soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan saying you were calling and they emailed each others — each other. And so, we've been expecting your call today. [laughter]
So I made 63 calls on Memorial Day. [applause] And you know, I was a little concerned about the calls because this was before the surge in Iraq and before we'd been so successful in our military action there.
And I expected that some of them would say what some politicians were saying, that we had lost in Iraq, we should divide the country in three or whatever. And I thought some would say why is my loved one still there, can't they come home.
In 63 calls, not one complaint, not one, and in each call — [applause] — in each call I would end with roughly these words: on behalf of our country and on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I want to express my appreciation to you for the sacrifice of your family and the sacrifice of your loved one for our great country. And they would either interrupt me or wait until I was finished and say roughly these words: no, Governor, it's an honor to be able to sacrifice for the greatest nation on Earth. [applause]
I love our patriotism. I love the spirit of America. I love the hearts of our fellow citizens. I saw a classmate of mine just a few weeks ago in Atlanta at an event. This classmate was a very successful businessperson and then he was involved in a tragic accident which left him paralyzed from the neck down. And I went to an event. It was hot and a lot of people there crowding around. But I looked back and I saw kind of a space in the crowd. And I looked carefully and there was Billy Hulce. He'd come to my event.
It touched my heart to see him there and they pushed his wheelchair forward and he came up and I reached over and put my arm on his shoulder and I whispered into his ear. And I said: Billy, I love you and God bless you. And Billy was an inspiration to me in the things he had done up until that point because even though he lost his mobility, he stayed active, active in his business, active in spinal cord research doing everything he could to try and help other people from experiencing the suffering he'd had.
So I was happy to put my hand on his shoulder and thank him and express my love to him and ask God to bless him. And he — [applause]. I got a — I got a call from a friend that he died the next day after that visit. It's rare that you get a chance to tell someone how much you love them when you still can. I thought back to a time a little earlier in my life when I was serving as the pastor in my congregation. And I'd been visiting a family, the Oparowski family. You may have seen them speak at the Republican Convention.
Ted Oparowski, firefighter for the Medford police department, his wife Pat and two sons. And David was about 14-years-old. He became afflicted with leukemia. And I spent time with David. I'd visit with him. We became more and more friendly. I asked him what would he like more than anything else in the world. He said fireworks. So I bought some and we had a big box of fireworks and helped him light them off. And on one occasion, he brought me into his bedroom while he was still at home. And he said: Mitt, what happens next? And I talked to him about what I believe about life hereafter.
And then, as he was really ill and in the hospital, he called one day and I think either he called directly or Pat, his mom, called and said: David wants you. You got a law degree, right? I said, yes. I'm not a practicing lawyer but I have a law degree. And she said or he said: Would you come to the hospital. He wants to dictate his will to you. And so I went to the hospital and got out my legal pad to make it look official and said: David, what do you want to do.
And he said: Well, I want my fishing rod to go to one friend and I want my skateboard to go to another friend and I want my rifle to go to my brother and through all this, David had a kind of strength and courage and maturity you see in so many of our young people and so many of the people in this great nation of ours. I thought of that wonderful slogan some years later: clear eyes, full heart, can't lose. David passed away but I'll always remember and never forget his courage, his clear eyes, his full heart, he won't lose. [applause]
One more — one more experience that will underscore the greatness of the human spirit, the greatness of this great land of ours. And this was at the Republican Convention. I met someone named Jane Horton. Jane also suffered tragedy in her life. Her husband Christopher was serving in Afghanistan on the day she was packing up a care package to go to him for his birthday when the knock came at the door that he'd been tragically killed there. And what did she do? She didn't fall into a sadness and a despair but instead went to work to help other families that had lost loved ones and served our nation.
She went to the funeral for her husband when his remains came back of course. And this was at a time when that misguided group who was protesting at funerals of our servicemen.
MR. ROMNEY: And she was asked what do you think about these people protesting at your husband's funeral? And she said this, and I quote, "Chris died for them to be able to protest." This is quite a nation we live in. [applause] I love those who serve our country. I love that verse from 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 Forces please raise your hand and please be recognized? [applause] Thank you.
I believe in America. I believe in you. I believe our future is bright because I believe in the greatness of the American spirit. We're going to overcome the challenges we have. I'm counting on Florida to win this for me on November 6th so that we can take back this country and make it strong again. [applause] I love this nation! We're going to win in Florida! We're going to win across the country! We're going to get America back on the path that it needs to be to have a bright and prosperous future. Thank you so very much! You're the best! Thank you! Thank you! [applause]
Mitt Romney, Remarks with Ann Romney at a Campaign Event in Apopka, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315882