Governor Mitt Romney tours his spiffy new Florida campaign headquarters in Tampa, FL. September 2, 2011 (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
After addressing the Republican National Hispanic Assembly national convention in Tampa yesterday, Governor Romney had a grand opening to attend… It was the official opening of his campaign headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
“This is just a state that’s like the whole country,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “I love Florida, love being here, love the people of this state, in part because you understand what makes America, America.”
So far, Florida is returning his affection. He leads Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other Republican candidates in the polls here, in part because he has been here a lot and built a good organization.
The former Massachusetts governor was in the Sunshine State on Friday, meeting with supporters at his new campaign office near downtown Tampa.
Four years ago, Florida played an important part in the Republican contest — it held an early primary that violated party rules. Even so, John McCain ran here and won, a victory that sealed his comeback and set the stage for his nomination.
Romney is hoping Florida can play that same role in his campaign. Indeed, this year the state is likely to play a key part in the GOP nominating process. State officials say they plan to hold an early primary — one that may jump ahead of Super Tuesday on March 6.
And to do well here, Romney has to do well with one of the nation’s fastest-growing groups — Hispanics.
TAMPA – The road to the White House leads through Tampa today. Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are among the top Republicans in town.
Both GOP hopefuls were here to address the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Florida, which was meeting today at the airport Hyatt.
Many members said they were especially excited to hear from Romney[...]
Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, spent about 20 minutes covering topics from education to foreign policy. But the economy was his main topic.
He blasted the president over his job creation record, on the heels of figures that show no net job creation in last two months.
“I’m going to be presenting a detailed plan about how to get America back to work and how to grow our economy. It’s going to be bold; it’s not just going to be a little stimulus,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “It’s a complete restructuring. It will be sweeping and specific.”
Romney’s remarks were strikingly similar to the message of Rubio, whom Romney has said is on his shortlist for vice president should he win the nomination. Rubio often uses his background as a child of immigrants to discuss American exceptionalism, opportunity and freedom.
Romney’s speech mostly focused on a broad message of the “common ground” found by a “nation of immigrants” and hit on the Tea Party themes of cutting government spending and respecting the 10th Amendment, which protects the right of states.
“As a nation of immigrants, we’ve found common ground not in our heritage but in our hearts,” Romney said. “When generations looked up and saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time, or a piece of sandy beach that was freedom, or stepped off a plane traveling from tyranny to hope … they knew without a doubt … that they were coming to a place where anything was possible — that in America, their children, and their grandchildren, would have a better life. That confidence in a better tomorrow defines us as Americans.”
[...] Romney also praised Rubio in the speech when discussing legal immigration. “I am a great proponent of legal immigration. Many of you are living proof of the unique strength of America that is constantly renewed by new Americans. The promise of America has brought some of the world’s best and brightest to our shores,” said Romney. “It brought to America the parents of Marco Rubio, who is one of America’s great leaders today.”
While he did not make it a focus of the speech, Romney also discussed illegal immigration, a sensitive issue in front of a Hispanic Republican audience. He called for a high-tech fence along the border with Mexico, an improved employment verification system for businesses and penalties for violations, and touted a veto from when he was governor of a bill that would have provided in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants.
Romney is the only top-tier presidential candidate to address the group.
RNC Chairman Reince Preibus and former FL Governor Jeb Bush were also slated to speak.
A delegate at the convention believes Romney could be the one to get America back on track. “I think it’s the first time we have a major political figure coming over and address us directly. We feel honored; we feel emboldened by his presence.”
The full transcript of Romney’s speech may be found here and here.