As he plans to do with a white Palladian mansion in Washington, D.C. in January, Republican Mitt Romney took over Ida Lee Park in Leesburg Wednesday, telling a crowd estimated at 7,000 he’s the presidential candidate that will “get this country right again.”
“Twenty days, we have 20 days,” Romney shouted as a chilly fall night fell . “We have 20 days. We need to take back America – it’s up to you guys in Virginia, you can make the difference. You’re going to make the difference. We’re taking back America, we’re going to remain the powerhouse of the Earth.”
Republicans and Democrats alike have stated Virginia, and Northern Virginia specifically, may very well determine the winner of the 2012 election.
Fresh off his second debate Tuesday against President Barack Obama, Romney said he wished the president would talk about his own policies and plan rather than focusing on the Republicans’ proposal.
“I love these debates we’ve been having, you know that, those have been a lot of fun,” Romney said. “I think it’s interesting, with two presidential debates gone, the president still hasn’t found an agenda for a second term. We have an agenda for our term, and our agenda’s going to get this country working again.
“He seems to spend most of his time in these debates talking about why my plans aren’t going to work. I wish he’d spend a little more time explaining why his plans have not worked,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
Speaking for 22 minutes, Romney criticized Obama’s budget proposals, notably a cut to military spending, and his failure to push for immigration reform during his first year in office. The ailing national economy and a debate comment the president made – saying gas prices are high because the economy is stronger than it was when he took office – were also targets for Romney.
“The president’s policies are running on fumes. It’s time to finally get a president that’ll get this country working again,” Romney said.
If Obama is re-elected, Romney said the nation’s federal debt, currently tabbed at approximately $16 trillion, will hit $20 trillion. The “American dream” will be crushed,”he added.
The GOP candidate touched on his “five-point plan,” which includes utilizing and unleashing all of America’s energy sources; expanding trade; focusing on education and training skills; balancing the budget; and championing small business.
Romney said he doesn’t want to drastically transform America into “something we wouldn’t recognize.”
“I don’t want to make America like Europe … I want to restore to America the freedoms that drive our economy – our economy is driven by freedom, by personal freedom, by people pursuing their dreams.”
The American strength, Romney noted, can be seen through single moms who save up cash each day to feed their kids; by the dad who works two job to buy his son new clothes; by parents who won’t exchange gifts over the holidays so their children have a happy Christmas; and young men or women who put their careers aside to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
“This is the nature of our American spirit. We live for something bigger than ourselves,” Romney said.
On foreign policy, there are too many potential threats to the U.S. to reduce military spending, Romney believes. Whether it’s North Korea, the Middle East, Pakistan, North Africa, Romney doesn’t “think the world is a safe place,” he said.
The Democratic president hasn’t exactly hidden from his first-term record. Obama and his surrogates often note that the private sector has added jobs for more than 30 consecutive months. When speaking on the economy, spokesmen for the left are quick to remind voters the economy was losing approximately 700,000 jobs a month when Obama took office. In recent months, the U.S. economy has been adding around 100,000 jobs per month.
Obama often references ending the war in Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden as two important foreign policy and national security achievments, as well.
Late in his 2008 campaign, Obama himself addressed a crowd of more than 10,000 people at Ida Lee Park. Four years ago, the president was the first Democrat to win Virginia in 44 years.
Before the speech, Democrats held a small event outside the park to respond to the Romney campaign. Brian Moran, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, and Leesburg Town Council Member Kelly Burk spoke to reporters with a batch of high school students campaigning for Obama serving as the backdrop.
The Democrats said a Romney-Ryan administration would try to raise taxes on the middle class, turn Medicare into a voucher system and cut investments in education and services for veterans. It’s the Republican plan, an Obama spokesman said, that will raise taxes on the middle-class.
“Mitt Romney tried tonight to move on from his debate defeat by paying lip service to middle class families and small businesses,” Danny Kamer, an Obama campaign spokesman, said in a prepared statement. “But the problem for Romney is that he’s still selling them the same sketchy deal that he has been for months: $5 trillion in tax cuts skewed toward the wealthiest and $2 trillion in new military spending the Pentagon’s not asking for with no plan to pay for it without raising middle class taxes.”
Middle-class taxes and entitlements continue to be key focuses for both campaigns, with each claiming the other side will slash Medicare and raise taxes on the average American.
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