Exclamation Point on Mitt Romney’s Very Good Week: Meets with S. Carolina Small Business Owners

Gov Mitt Romney met with small business owners at Meetze Plumbing in Irmo, South Carolina. The event was organized by S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine. 5/21/11

South Carolina was the exclamation point on a very good week for Mitt Romney today!

Romney’s first visit to the Palmetto State this election cycle began with a morning event at the home of S.C. Representative Nathan Ballentine. Gov Romney then attended an informal meeting, arranged by Ballantine (one of Gov Nikki Haley’s top lieutenants in S.C.’s legislature), at Meetze Plumbing in Irmo. The gathering provided an intimate setting for community business owners to voice their concerns about staying viable in this economy.

*Ballentine tweeted earlier this morning:

Enjoyed hosting @MittRomney in our home and our community today! Thanks to everyone (especially the business owners) who attended!

Hoping to blunt Romney’s foray into South Carolina, an “Independent” group, consisting of former Obama White House Staffers and former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges (Dem), released a negative ad which coincided with The Gov’s visit. It ran on local TV stations.

Romney was undeterred:

Irmo, South Carolina (CNN) – Mitt Romney spoke to a button-downed group of small business owners Saturday in the early primary state of South Carolina, but with frequent nods to the Constitution and states’ rights, he sounded like he might have been at ease addressing a Tea Party rally instead.

Romney, who donned jeans and rolled-up shirtsleeves for his first visit to South Carolina as a potential Republican presidential candidate, questioned President Barack Obama’s understanding of the role of government and basic economic matters.

“I believe in the Constitution,” Romney said. “I believe in what the Constitution said, that the government that would deal primarily with citizens at the local level would be local and state government, not the federal government. I don’t think the president respects states like I do.”

“I respect the rights of states to come up with their own answers and their own solutions to compete with one another,” he added.

The former governor’s argument conveniently dovetails with his aggressive defense of the health care plan he implemented in Massachusetts, which has drawn scorn from some conservatives because of its strong resemblance to President Obama’s health care law.

Later, taking questions from the roughly 30-member audience, Romney went out of his way to address the elephant in the room.

“Someone’s got to ask me about health care right?” Romney said with a chuckle, prompting several voters to raise their hands.

He responded that, if elected, he would immediately repeal “Obamacare” and give states block grants to develop their own health care programs.
Romney cited a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board that could halt construction of a new Boeing facility in South Carolina. The North Charleston plant is expected to create thousands of jobs.

“How in the world can the president justify the federal government taking power from South Carolina and not allowing South Carolina to compete on a fair and level playing field?” he asked. “It’s simply unexcusable.”

(my emphasis)

Romney was also asked about Rep. Paul Ryan’s plans for Medicare:

Romney responded that he will roll out his own ideas for Medicare at a later date but blasted the president for not coming up with his own solution.

While he applauded Ryan for thinking seriously about fixing the entitlement debt burden, Romney said Ryan’s plan “is not the same as my plan.”

“The Ryan plan and my plan are on the same page,” he said. “We have the same objectives. My plan is different than his. It’s not identical.”

Continue reading here.


A crowd of about 40 in a hot warehouse stacked with plumbing supplies cheered when he said it was time for politicians to spend less time thinking about getting re-elected and more time on “thinking about how to get the country on the right track and put Americans back to work.”

Mitt Romney fills containers with food from Farm Boys restaurant in Irmo, S.C. to serve later at a meeting with local business leaders. 5/21/11

Although Governor Nikki Haley was unable to attend the event due to scheduling, Romney spoke with her on the phone on Friday. Hayley’s spokesman, Rob Godfrey, said this:

“They were just touching base,” Godfrey said. “The governor told Governor Romney she was sorry they couldn’t catch up this time, and he let her know that he’d be back often.”

After the confab concluded, Romney treated the audience to trays of barbecued pulled pork, hush puppies and jugs of iced tea (which he and his staff purchased beforehand from Farm Boys restaurant).

*Note on S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine:

Did you know? Nathan doesn’t keep his State House salary. He donates his salary to local community groups and organizations and in 2006 designated funds specifically to scholarships for deserving seniors in our community.

Who else does this sound like?

UPDATE by Ross:

UPDATE 2 by Jayde: To see photos of Mitt mingling with folks at Farm Boys restaurant and Meetze Plumbing, click here (click on photo on left-hand side).

► Jayde Wyatt

UPDATE 3 by Ross: Interesting insight here.

The issue at hand is, what does that mean for Gov. Nikki Haley? Ballentine and Haley, former deskmates in the House, rarely make a move without the other. Haley supported Romney during the 2008 primary, and Romney endorsed Haley during her campaign for governor. Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did as well.

But, with Barbour out and Palin unlikely to run, and her best friend siding with Romney, is this a sign Haley is with the Romney camp, too?


Thanks @NathanBallentin + Karen for hosting me for some real lemonade and discussion about the economy w/ voters in your SC homeless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Hugh Hewitt Asks Mitt Romney About Obama’s Libyan Policy, Presidential Plans

Governor Romney was a guest today during the first hour of the Hughniverse (Hugh Hewitt’s radio program). Romney was asked about Obama’s foreign policy in Libya, the future of nuclear power, and his presidential plans for 2012:

Monday, March 21, 2011
HH: Joined now by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Governor, always a pleasure, welcome back.
MR: Thank you. Good to be with you today.

HH: What is your reaction to President Obama’s announcement of air strikes on Libya?
MR: Well, first, I support military action in Libya. I support our troops there and the mission that they’ve been given. But let me also note that thus far, the President has been unable to construct a foreign policy, any foreign policy. I think it’s fair to ask, you know, what is it that explains the absence of any discernable foreign policy from the president of the United States? And I believe that it flows from his fundamental disbelief in American exceptionalism. In the President’s world, all nations have common interests, the lines between good an evil are blurred, America’s history merits apology. And without a compass to guide him in our increasingly turbulent world, he’s tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced. And as a result, I think, he says, for instance, he’s committed to our success in Afghanistan unless it means commitment beyond 2011. He stands with our ally, Israel, but condemns its settlement policy even more forcefully than he condemns Hamas’ rockets. And he calls for the removal of Muammar Gaddafi, but then conditions our action on the directions we get from the Arab League and the United Nations.

HH: Did he wait too long, Governor Romney, to strike against Libya?
MR: There’s no question but that his inability to have a clear and convincing foreign policy made him delegate to the United Nations and the Arab League a decision about our involvement there. And I happen to have a very personal concern. I mean, 270 people were killed as a result of that tragedy over Lockerbie. We now know that that was ordered directly by Muammar Gaddafi. One of my colleagues at Bain & Co, and a friend, named Nicholas Bright, was killed in that flight. And the President had every piece of information he needed to be able to take action in America’s interest.

HH: Does he appear weak?
MR: You know, I think one of the comments I’ve heard from individuals abroad is that in the past, America has been feared sometimes, has been respected, but today, that America is seen as being weak. We’re following the French into Libya. I appreciate the fact that others are participating in this effort, but I think we look to America to be the leader of the world. You know, the cause of liberty can endure the mistakes that are inevitable consequences of human fallibility. But liberty’s standard can’t prevail if it’s not proudly, decisively and consistently held aloft.

At the end of the interview, Hewitt mentioned Tim Pawlenty’s exploratory announcement today and asked Romney about his plans:

HH: […] Last question, Governor Romney, we’ve got about 45 seconds. Former Governor Pawlenty announced his exploratory committee today. Do you have any idea when you’ll be deciding whether or not to do the same thing?
MR: I have an idea, Hugh, but I’d tell you quietly, but I’m afraid you’d let your listeners know, so I’ll have to be giving that some thought, but no definitive plans right now.

HH: Are you going to the Reagan Library debate that Politico wants to hold in May?
MR: Well, that depends on when we get things organized, and that’s not something I’m ready to come out with right now. But I can tell you that I’m doing what I’ve got to do to make sure that if we decide to go ahead, that we’ll have a successful effort.

HH: Mitt Romney, always a pleasure, Governor, thank you for joining us.

(my emphasis) Read the entire transcript here.

UPDATE: Here’s an audio portion of the Romney/Hewitt interview:

I’m giving a shout-out to 16 year old Tyler Keegan for creating this new video
Mitt Romney – Common Sense for America:

Although I trust Mitt’s timing on when to get in the race, I’m getting excited for a Romney candidacy! Are you?

H/t to Sam for audio

► Jayde Wyatt