By Evan Goodenow
CLEVELAND — Down in most swing state polls but upbeat, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday asked about 3,500 supporters at the I-X Center to help him defeat President Obama on Tuesday.
“He’s offering excuses, I’ve got a plan. I can’t wait for us to get going. He wants us to settle,” Romney told the cheering crowd. “Our destiny is in your hands.”
Among those in the audience was Linda Reiter of Lorain.
Reiter said she supported U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for president rather than Romney in 2008. She said she favored former Georgia congressman Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in the 2012 primaries but was extremely impressed with Romney’s speech and his character.
“He’s a wholesome, God-fearing person and I believe he’s going to be our next president of the United States,” she said. “I could just feel it in the air.”
While Democrats have blamed President George W. Bush for leaving Obama an economy losing approximately 800,000 jobs per month and an approximately $1.3 trillion budget deficit when Obama took office, Romney quipped that he wouldn’t complain about his predecessor if elected.
Romney portrayed Obama and his administration as dysfunctional, blaming Obama for what The Associated Press calls the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Romney blamed Obama’s “liberal agenda” for the nearly 23 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed and the approximately 47 million living in poverty.
“Almost every measure he took hurt the economy and hurt our fellow Americans,” Romney said. “The middle class is being squeezed with lower take home pay and higher costs for insurance and gasoline for food and clothes.”
Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann Romney, offered few specifics in his approximately 25-minute speech, but promised if elected to create jobs by increasing coal mining and oil drilling, including more drilling on federal land.
He vowed to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama has delayed citing environmental and safety concerns. While domestic oil production was at an eight-year high last year, Romney accused Obama of declaring “war on coal and oil and gas.”
Referring to the U.S. trade deficit, Romney said he’d declare China a “currency manipulator” and cut annual nonmilitary spending by 5 percent. He vowed to restore “fiscal sanity” promising to repeal ObamaCare, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates would add $109 billion to the deficit between 2013 and 2022.
Romney — who in February said he’d been a “severely conservative” governor of Massachusetts, where he passed a health care law similar to ObamaCare — said Sunday he had worked well with Massachusetts Democrats who had the majority in the legislature.
Romney said had had balanced budgets and achieved job growth in the Massachusetts, which ranked 47th in job growth during his time as governor, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and had a “structural deficit” shortly after Romney left office in 2007, according to the nonpartisan Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.
Romney said his time at Bain Capital, where critics said Bain takeovers of companies sometimes led to closings and layoffs, gave him the necessary business experience to turn the economy around.
“I know how to change the course that the nation is on,” he said. “Accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about. It’s something I’ve done and I do.”
Despite being defeated in a senatorial run and in the 2008 Republican primary, Ann Romney said Romney “does not fail.” Alluding to her multiple sclerosis, Ann Romney said she had experienced “some dark hours in my life” but her husband stood by her. “He will not fail America,” she said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.