As the Virginia summer heats up, so too does the political sparring between presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.
Speaking to hundreds of supporters in Sterling Thursday, Romney focused his speech largely on President Obama’s health care overhaul. The event fell less than 24 hours before the U.S. Supreme Court is due to take up the constitutionality of the president’s legislation, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
To open his speech, Romney praised Loudoun County Republicans’ campaign organizers.
“You guys in Loudoun are doing a great job. You may well be the county that decides who the next president is and, if you are, it’ll be me,” he said.
Romney then quickly took to lashing Obama’s health care reform, considered by many to be his prime achievement. Romney claimed 20 million people will be dropped from their employer’s health insurance under Obama’s law.
“My guess is they’re not sleeping real well in the White House tonight,” said Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, referencing to Thursday’s Supreme Court decision. “That’s the way it ought to be.”
While governor, Romney implemented a statewide health care plan considered by many observers a model for Obamacare.
Speaking in front of a banner reading “Putting Jobs First,” Romney called for a repeal of Obamacare (even if the U.S. Supreme Court says it’s within its constitutional bounds), urged a reduction of the federal debt and bemoaned the president’s “liberal agenda.”
“There’s nothing wrong with people having an agenda, but when the country’s in crisis, you have a moral responsibility to focus on helping people come out of that crisis,” said Romney.
President Obama is in a tight spot “because he hasn’t done what he said he’d do,” which is turn the economy around, the Republican said.
Romney made reference to a recent comment from Obama that the private sector is doing fine. Twenty-three million people out of work aren’t doing fine, Romney said.
In recent weeks, however, the Obama campaign has been touting the fact the U.S. private sector has added jobs for 27 consecutive months.
The U.S. unemployment rate in May was 8.2 percent. Virginia’s was nearly 5.5 percent in April.
To create jobs, Romney said as president he’d take advantage of the country’s energy resources – coal, oil, wind and solar – and open the nation up for more trade opportunities.
“We don’t need more debt, we do not need any more deficits, we cannot pass on these burdens to the next generation,” Romney said.
The federal debt currently sits at more than $15 trillion. It was approximately $10.5 trillion when Obama entered office in 2009.
One thing both Obama and Romney agree on, Romney said, was that every American deserves a “fair shot.”
“I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity …,” Romney said.
Romney said the younger generation won’t have a fair shot if trillions of dollars in debt is passed on and unemployment rates remain high.
Next to Romney on stage was Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, still considered by some pundits to be a potential vice president pick. McDonnell, however, has said he isn’t being vetted.
Earlier in the day, Obama advocates held an event in Sterling featuring Leesburg Town Council member Kelly Burk and Aneesh Chopra, who served as chief technology officer for President Obama.
State Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd) issued a statement Wednesday morning criticizing Romney’s record.
“While Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts dropped to 47th out of 50 states in job creation,” Herring said. “Manufacturing jobs declined by 14 percent – twice the national average – and Governor Romney’s policies put more than 40,000 people out of work. In fact, more jobs have been created in Massachusetts under President Obama than under Mitt Romney when he was Governor – four and a half times as many.”
In 2008, Obama won the commonwealth’s 13 electoral votes, the first time Virginia went blue in 44 years.
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