Remarks with Ann Romney at a Campaign Event in St. Petersburg, Florida
MITT ROMNEY: Thank you, wow! What a thrill! What a St. Petersburg welcome. Thank you so much!
AUDIENCE: Romney! Romney! Romney!
MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, Artur Davis. What a great congressman! And I am pleased this evening to be joined by the most wonderful woman I've ever known, my sweetheart, Ann Romney. Ann, say hi. [applause]
ANN ROMNEY: Oh it's so great to be here and it's so great to know that so many of you are feeling the same feelings we're feeling. It's time to save this country. [applause] I was so thrilled at the debate for people to see my husband unfiltered without any negative ads, without any media trying to interpret what he says and what he feels in his heart. This is a man that cares about the American people. [applause]
I've seen him throughout his life exhibit extraordinary compassion for others. What he's taught my sons I will never forget and never wonder how they turned out as they have because they watched their father give service throughout his life, caring for others, being there for others. This is what we need right now, someone that understands the economy, that is confident, that understands, that cares. So I'm looking forward to the next debate. [applause]
I'm also looking forward to hearing Paul Ryan next week. So we're going to have — [applause] — we're going to have — the next four weeks are so important that all of us understand how critical this election is, how important it is that we get someone in office that will turn the economy around, get people working and listen to the voices of all those millions of Americans out there that are crying for help. So thank you all very much. [applause]
MR. ROMNEY: Thank you, sweetheart. [applause] She's the best. Now, I want to thank Artur Davis for standing up here and showing — and getting behind our team. He's a great American and I appreciate his help and support. [applause] I want to thank Gus Bilirakis as well, running for Congress again. Give him your support.
Where are you, Gus? He's around here somewhere. And also thanks to Congressman Bill Young. We need to get him reelected as well. [applause] And Mayor Rick Baker, where's the mayor? He's usually towering — standing very tall around here and I appreciate him. And by the way, we need to make — there he is, back there, back row. There's the former mayor right there. Good to see you, my friend.
And we need to make sure that Connie Mack becomes the next U.S. senator from this great state. [applause] Now, with Ann I agree. I enjoyed that debate a couple of nights ago. That was a great experience. [applause]
It was a chance — I think that Jim Lehrer did an excellent job in raising issues and having the candidates talk about our views on issues rather than just the gotcha thing that sometimes happens with media interviews. I thought it was a good chance for us ask each other questions. I asked the president some of the questions I know people across America have wanted to ask him.
I asked him, for instance, why with 23 million Americans that were looking for work and wanted a president that would focus on getting the economy going he instead spent his first two years fighting for "Obamacare."
MR. ROMNEY: I asked him why with gasoline prices so high he decided to cut in half the number of permits and licenses on federal lands and in federal waters and also wouldn't build the Keystone pipeline. I got a chance —
MR. ROMNEY: I got a chance to ask him why it was with a deficit so severe and such a threat to our future that the president would spend $90 billion on so-called green energy jobs.
MR. ROMNEY: Anybody here have one of those? [laughter] I keep looking. Why it was when he called the deficits un-American and unpatriotic, he was the one that created the first trillion-dollar deficit and had a trillion-dollar deficit every one of his four years in office. I asked him again why it was when he said that in his first year his highest priority will be to put in place an immigration plan that would solve our immigration problems, why instead he never filed a piece of legislation for immigration reform.
I asked him one more question and that was why it was that when he promised that health insurance premiums would go down for the average family in America by $2,500 a year, this year it'd be down by $2,500, instead it's gone up by $2,500. And you know what, with median incomes in America at about $50,000, that $5,000 difference is a huge difference for the American people. This has been a tough time. And you know, we heard his answers, or his non-answers, as the case may be. [laughter]
But you can't really blame him because he pointed out the other day that you can't fix Washington from the inside. He said he's got to do it from the outside. Well, we're going to give him that chance. [applause]
AUDIENCE: Romney! Romney! Romney!
MR. ROMNEY: Now, we did agree — we did agree on one thing and that is this is a critical election and that the paths we would take our nation down are quite different. He, for instance, is going to raise taxes. His vice president this week blurted out the truth. They plan on raising taxes a trillion dollars. They already raised them a trillion so it's really 2 trillion (dollars) when you put that together. That's an increase in taxes on small business among other places. And by the way, that'll mean less jobs. It's been calculated that his tax plan — raising taxes — will cost 700,000 jobs.
I will not raise taxes on small business and I will not raise taxes on middle income families. [applause] And rather than costing 700,000 jobs, my tax plan will help create 7 million jobs. So it's a very different approach. If he's reelected, why, his plans would take us down to installing "Obamacare". By the way, that extra 2,500 (dollars) you're spending this year, it'll go up even more because the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that "Obamacare" will cost another $2,500 above what you'd otherwise be paying.
And also with "Obamacare" you'll put a bureaucrat in the doctor's office with you. In my view we've got to focus on getting the cost of health care under control and we have to repeal and replace "Obamacare" and I'll do it. [applause] Now, his plan takes us down a course that will cut our funding for Medicare for today's seniors — not for tomorrow's seniors — for today's seniors by $716 billion. I will honor the promise made to our seniors. I'll restore the $716 billion he would cut. [applause]
If he was going to get reelected, why, you know what's going to happen which is another four years of trillion-dollar deficits, putting us on the way to 20 trillion (dollars). You see that clock. There it is over there. Our national debt right now, 16.1 trillion (dollars). That would be 20 trillion (dollars) if he were reelected at the end of his fourth year. And let me tell you, that would put in jeopardy the American dream for our kids and actually for a lot of us as well. And so, I'm going to do this. I'm going to make sure we cut federal spending and we cap federal spending at 20 percent of the budget and we finally get America on track to a balanced budget. [applause]
AUDIENCE: Romney! Romney! Romney!
MR. ROMNEY: Now, he got a chance to explain his jobs program, how he's going to create new jobs in America. Did you hear what he had to say? I didn't either. [laughter] I kept looking for a specific plan as to what he was going to do to create jobs. I heard more of the same — stimulus, hiring more government workers, raising taxes. Those things don't create jobs. They cost jobs. The American people are having a hard time right now. You realize if the number of people in America — the participation of our adults in the workforce — were the same as at the time he got elected, why our unemployment rate would be about 11 percent.
People in this country are having a hard time finding a job. People in this country are having a hard time making ends meet even if they do have a job. And so it's time to have someone who's elected president who actually has a plan and I do. We'll create 12 million jobs and rising incomes. That's the kind of future we need to have for America. [applause] And you know — you know the things. I've got five things. You heard me talk about them.
I don't have to look at notes to know what they are, by the way. I know what they are, all right. [laughter] Number one — number one, we're going to take advantage of our energy — our coal, our gas, our oil, our nuclear, our renewables. [applause] We're going to double the number of permits on federal lands and in federal waters and we're going to get the oil off the shore of Alaska and we're going to build that pipeline from Canada as well and get that oil here. [applause]
And that means lower gasoline prices because we've got to take advantage of our energy resources here. People are struggling under the high cost of energy. And that, by the way, creates new jobs too — 3-1/2 to 4 million jobs will come back if we really take advantage of our energy resources.
Number two, we're going to make trade work for us. We're going to open up new markets for trade. You particularly here in Florida will have opportunities to sell goods in Latin America nearby, language opportunities and time zone opportunities. We'll do well opening up more trade. But I'll tell you this. I will crack down on China or any other nation that cheats. [applause]
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
MR. ROMNEY: There's a third thing. My third thing is this. I want to make sure that our people have the skills for the jobs of today. So those 47 different federal training programs that all report into eight different agencies, think of the waste and the overhead. I want to take the money from those programs, give Florida its fair share and say, Florida, you create the programs best for your own people. Get the federal government out of it. [applause]
And I want to fix our schools. I want to fix our schools for the jobs of tomorrow so our kids have the skills they need to succeed. And I know what it takes to do that. It takes a focus on the teachers. Let me tell you, for us to fix our schools it means put the kids and the parents and the teachers first and put the teachers union behind like you've done here in Florida. [applause]
Number four, I want to make sure that every entrepreneur and every business that's thinking about growing knows that America's not going to become Greece or otherwise they won't invest here. Were on the path to Greece with the kind of spending this president is doing. And so, I'm going to make sure we balance the budget as I described earlier. And one more thing. I'm going to champion small business. [applause]
This is where our jobs come from. Sixty-five percent of all the jobs in America over the last 15 years came from small business. And they're getting crushed right now with higher taxes and regulators that don't understand small business. There's also this idea known as card check. You may not have heard of this. The president promotes it. He's promised to push it when he speaks with the AFL-CIO. He's going to take away the right of our workers to vote by secret ballot as to whether or not they want a union. And that would force unions on workers that don't want hem and businesses that don't want them.
MR. ROMNEY: I will protect and help small business. We'll get small business growing again and get America creating jobs with small businesses succeeding. [applause] Two very different paths — I've got a path to create 12 million jobs. His answer is, well, we're just going to go forward. And I think forewarned is a better word. We know where his policies lead and that's — we do not want and we cannot afford four more years like the last four years. [applause]
Now, I want you to know how confident I am in the future. I'm confident as I see you here. I know of your patriotism and your love of the country. I know you're not here just because you like me — well, maybe because you like Ann. [applause] And even because you're conservative Republicans but because you care about America. That's what brings you here. And I've seen America. I've seen the greatness of the human spirit in my fellow Americans. It gives me confidence in our future. I know we can rise to the occasion time and again.
I've seen it throughout my life. When I was — well, a kid in school — actually this was in graduate school. I got to meet a guy named Billy Hulse. And Bill began a business and was very successful and then he was involved in an accident and became a quadriplegic. And I just saw him a couple of weeks ago — I think three weeks ago in Atlanta. He came to an event. And it's not easy for Billy to get around, a quadriplegic. But his wife was there and he can't move, of course, his arms or his legs and he can barely speak.
And they brought him forward, a big crowd around him, very hot. I reached down and I put my hand on Billy's shoulder and I whispered into his ear and I said: Billy, God bless you. I love you. And he whispered back to me. I couldn't quite hear what he said. He tried to speak loud enough for me to hear. He died the next day. And Billy's courage was seen in his life because even after this accident he devoted himself to things he cared about like spinal injury research. It's a great man. I've seen that kind of spirit.
I saw it in a young boy. When I was a younger man living in Massachusetts, I used to visit a family. You may have seen them at the Republican convention not far from here, the Oparowski family. I saw them regularly. And then their son David at age about 14 got leukemia and moved very quickly. It was clear he was not going to make it. And I went into his room one night when he was in bed and he asked me a very difficult question. He said: Mitt, what's next? He called me Brother Romney. What's next?
And I talked to him about what I believe is next. And then a few days later when he was in the hospital I got a call. As I recall I was at work and he said: could you come by. And he said: You went to law school, right? Yeah. He said: Could you come by and write my will for me? This is a 14-year-old, a son of a firefighter in Medford, Massachusetts. And so I went to David's bedside and got out a piece of legal paper and made it look very official.
And then David proceeded to tell me what he wanted to give to his friends. He talked about his fishing rod and who would get that. He talked about his skateboard, who'd get that. And his rifle, that went to his brother. I've seen the character of a young man like David who wasn't emotional or crying. He had his eyes wide open. There's a saying: Clear eyes, full heart, can't lose. David couldn't lose. I love that young man. [applause]
I met a woman at the — I met a woman at the GOP convention — Jane Horton of Oklahoma.
Her husband, a sharpshooter in the United States military, often Afghanistan, on the day she's packaging up some goodies to go into his birthday package, the door — knock comes at the door. And they inform her that her husband had been killed. And she decides to devote herself to helping the families of others who've lost their loved ones. He was killed on September 9th of 2011. And this was a time when some very misguided people were protesting at the funerals of our servicemen and women. You recall that?
And they came to the funeral of her husband. And she was asked what do you think about this. And this is the quote. She said this: Chris died for them to be able to protest. Chris died for them to be able to protest. This is quite a nation we live in. We have some extraordinary people. [applause]
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I love our national hymns. I love our national hymns and anthems. I love that stanza, that verse in "America the Beautiful": O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life. Will the members of our Armed Forces here and our veterans please raise your hand so we can recognize you? [applause] Wow. On Memorial Day, I was in San Diego and I got to stand next to four fellows, as I recall, who had all served in the Second World War.
The one right next to me had been on the USS Tennessee on the day it was hit in Pearl Harbor. He was the lookout. He said he could lock eyes and did lock eyes with the pilot that was bringing in armament that would hit their ship. He was injured but went on to serve for 33 years in the U.S. Navy. These men and women are the greatest generation. They held a torch for the whole world to free, the torch of freedom, liberty, honesty, integrity hope.
And there are not as many of them as there used to be. And they're getting older. So they can't hold the torch quite as high. I was inspired just the other day. I happened to be in Toledo, Ohio.
AUDIECE MEMBER: [applause]
MR. ROMNEY: A Toledo girl, right there. Wow, front row. And this was an honor flight coming back. I was leaving at the airport just as this honor flight was coming in with men and women mostly from the Second World War but also from the Korean War that had been to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials and come home. And I went at the bottom of the ramp they were using to come off the airplane and shook their hands as they came off the aircraft.
And the last few that came off were in wheelchairs. They're getting pretty old. And one of them, the second to the last, he came down. I shook his hand and wished him the very best. And then they were proceeding to roll him out. And it was a cord kind of like this with flags on each side with people clapping and cheering as these soldiers would be brought through. And as they were ready to push him through that corridor of flags, he stopped the person pushing them and worked to get into his coat and pulled out an American flag and started to wave it.
This is a great nation. This is a great people. [applause] We face extraordinary challenged right now in this country. But I'm absolutely convinced that given the patriotism of the American people, given our passion for one another and our compassion as a people, and given the can-do, entrepreneurial spirit of America, we're going to overcome any challenge we have as long as we have leaders that'll tell the truth and fight for America. It's time for us to grab that torch that the greatest generation has held, the torch of liberty and freedom. [applause]
And right here in Florida, I have a commitment to make to you. And that is we're going to grab that torch together. I'm going to do everything in my power to keep America strong, to build strong families, to preserve strong values, to build a strong economy, to keep a military second to none in the world — [applause]. And I've got a request of you. I want you also to commit.
I want you to go find someone who voted for President Obama last time and convince them — well, just remind them how bad it's been these last four years and tell them to get on the train with us because I'm counting on Florida. We're going to win Florida and we're going to take back the White House. You guys are going to make it happen. We're going to make America strong again. Thank you so very much. Thank you so much, St. Petersburg. You guys are the best. Thank you! [applause]
Mitt Romney, Remarks with Ann Romney at a Campaign Event in St. Petersburg, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315874