Reeling from the Obamanomics punch to their economy, especially in their housing market, Arizona residents were happy to welcome Mitt Romney to their state. They turned out in large numbers.
After hosting a round table meeting at a car dealership in Tucson, Romney headed to Sun Lakes, a retirement community located near Chandler, where he hosted a standing-room-only town hall meeting. Later in the evening, a fundraiser was held in Tempe.
The Gov addressed a variety of topics: his business-friendly jobs creation plan, health care, immigration, social security, the election of Republican businessman Bob Turner in New York’s 9th district, and more.
■ Reuters – Tim Gaynor
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won support from business leaders in Arizona on Wednesday, pledging to cap government regulation and free up American business to get the country out of recession.
“We have to be honest about the challenges we have, deal with them directly, create the certainty that enterprise requires, then stand back and watch the American entrepreneur and businesses do what they have done over the last couple of hundred years, which is grow, hire and be profitable,” Romney told around 40 executives gathered at a Tucson Ford dealership.
Romney, who made a fortune running a private equity investment firm, set out a plan to kick start the economy by capping regulation, cutting healthcare costs and streamlining the immigration process to allow skilled, legal immigrants to boost competitiveness.
“I am devoted to making America the most attractive place in the world for business, for jobs to grow, for incomes to grow,” he said.
Romney also took a swipe at what he described as Democratic President Barack Obama’s failure to achieve economic recovery through stimulus spending.
“What’s wrong in America right now is not going to be cured by a little cup of gasoline on the fire,” Romney said.
“We need to fundamentally reshape the foundation of our economy and its relationship with government so that businesses are once again … incentivized to invest in America and to grow here.”
■ Romney takes CEO message to car dealer in Arizona – Garrett Haake
In response to a question on the topic of immigration reform — an important issue in this border state — and Gov. Rick Perry’s position on offering in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, Romney noted that this was an area in which he disagreed with Perry, but that he himself was strongly in favor of legal immigration — with highly skilled immigrants or those with advanced degrees moving to the front of the line.
In a nod to his host, local car dealer and major GOP donor and kingmaker Jim Click, who also hosted a luncheon for Romney later in the day, the former Massachusetts governor compared structural health-care cost problems to the car business.
“It’d be like in the automobile business if the customer came in and they paid $1,000 dollars — and that was it, that was effectively their deductible,” he said. “They pay $1,000 dollars and after that it’s free. They can get any car they want. They pay $1,000 dollars and after that it’s free, paid for by someone else. And then the sales person, they get a commission based on the more automobile they give you,” Romney said, describing the pay-for-service model of healthcare. “So we’d all be driving Ferraris and Rolls Royces. That’s what happened in health care, and we’ve got to change that.”
Romney also weighed in on last night’s special-election results in New York and Nevada. He pointed a questioner to Dan Senor’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning, which suggests President Obama (and by extension other democratic candidates) are losing the Jewish vote for what Senor (a Romney foreign policy advisor) considers to be Obama’s “one-sided” relationship with Israel.
In a local news interview, Romney explains his qualifications as a leader in the private sector, and outlines his campaign plans for Arizona:
Romney, fresh from a fundraising luncheon, was buoyed by a crowd estimated to be nearly 800 strong — mostly seniors, whose parked cars stretched for block after manicured block here in the Sun Lakes golf and retirement community near Phoenix. It was perhaps the largest, friendliest Romney crowd of the campaign season, which one Romney aide said showed the candidate’s strength in Arizona[...]
The former governor of Massachusetts stung his biggest rival, Rick Perry of Texas, on issues likely to carry more than a little water in this now early-voting, senior-heavy, border state: Social Security and immigration.
On Social Security, Romney joked, “You may have watched the debate. It came out in a big way.”
“Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme,” Romney began telling a questioner, to the laughter and approval approval of the crowd. “Social Security has worked for 75 years pretty darn well. You guys have not taken advantage of Social Security; you contributed to it. It’s a savings plan, a pension plan. There are no bad guys in Social Security, so I don’t call it a Ponzi scheme.”
But Romney, who said he wouldn’t touch the plan for current seniors, admitted the funding system would need changes in the long term to keep it solvent for younger generations. How would he accomplish this?
“No.1, we’re not going to change it by sending it back to the states. Gov. Perry, in his book, said: ‘Look, it’s unconstitutional at the federal level, give it back to the states,’” he said. “Look, you can’t have people who move from state to state to state having different plans state to state. I wouldn’t want the state legislatures raiding the trust funds of Social Security state by state. It needs to be a federal entitlement. I will save Social Security as a federal program and as a federal entitlement.”
► Jayde Wyatt