Flanked by former Governor Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman and Senate candidate Connie Mack, the former Massachusetts Governor laid out his plan to his supporters on how to get the economy back on track.
About 1,800 people were present at the rally this morning, marking Romney's first "official" campaign stop since shutting down events in light of the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Northeast. With the aftereffects of Sandy still dominating the political climate, the speakers placed a definite focus on those affected by the storm, as well as having a large display throughout the event encouraging those present to text a number to make a donation to the Red Cross.
Marco Rubio brought up that as a state that has dealt with the damages caused by hurricanes ourselves Floridians should remember the compassion of others nationwide when Florida was in need.
“Being from Florida, having lived through so many storms, we know what the folks who have impacted by the storm are going to go through the next weeks and months. Long after the cameras have been cut people will be living with the aftermath of the storm. So our hearts and our prayers go out to them, and also our help….we have been the beneficiaries of this support in the past, let’s be sure to pay it forward.”
Rubio said some words in Spanish to his Hispanic supporters and went on to thank the crowd for their support in the wake of his daughter’s recent golf cart accident. The senator praised Romney’s economic plans and spoke of his view of the “dream of the 21st century” as being an influx of business growth and higher employment.
“To have the right government policies you need the right government leaders. You need people that understand how the free enterprise system works, you need people that understand the policies that encourage the free enterprise system to move forward. We have such a person and we are six days from electing Mitt Romney as the next president of the United States.”
The speakers mainly focused on getting Romney elected president, and to a lesser extent electing Connie Mack to the U.S. Senate. Both Rubio and Bush garnered almost as much applause and support than the candidate himself, seeing as they are two of the heaviest hitters in the Florida political scene.
Mack has been running a somewhat contentious race against staid Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, most notably due to the outpouring of support and anti-Nelson ads from SuperPACs such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In a In a recent CBS/NY Times/Quinnipiac survey however, the Congressman is reported as being 13 points behind the moderate Democrat in a poll released on Wednesday.
Mack sang Romney’s praises all while hammering Nelson on issues such as voting records and attendance, something that Mack has been attacked on heavily by Democrats.
“This campaign for the Senate has been pretty nasty, I think. Senator Nelson has spent almost 16 million dollars attacking who I am. Don’t believe it. One of the things that he wants you to believe is that I don’t show up for work. What’s interesting is that I’ve got a better voting record than Senator Nelson…but you know what scares me about Senator Nelson is not the votes he missed but the votes that he made!”
Jeb Bush introduced Romney and spoke of his support for the Governor as being mainly due to his history in both business and government. Bush focused as well as encouraging the audience to support help for the Northeast, invoking the damage done by the string of hurricanes in the mid-2000’s.
“I want to remind everyone..that we need to keep our thoughts and prayers for our fellow Americans who are suffering through what has been a tragic storm. In Florida in 2005 and 2004 we knew something about storms. We had eight hurricanes and four tropical storms, probably a hundred billion dollars worth of lost property damages and millions of people who were without power, and we had the support of a lot of people that right now are suffering.”
Bush went on to speak highly of Romney’s record and his belief that he’s the man for the job.
“We need to have a jump start of the economy with new policies, with new leadership in Washington D.C. We need a man who has practical business experience, who has worked in many ways as a problem solver: in the private sector, in saving the Winter Olympics, as Governor of the great state of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is made for this job as president of the United States.”
Aside from expressing empathy for those affected by Sandy’s wake, Romney stuck to his usual playbook speech almost to the letter, many of his stories and even phrases almost exactly the same as the remarks he made Saturday at his rally at Land O’Lakes High School. The governor played up his usual points to improve the American economy by encouraging business growth and fixing a current system that’s broken in his mind.
“We need to take a new course, we have 47 million people on food stamps. Think about that, the richest country in the history of the Earth, the largest economy in the world, and yet 47 million people need food stamps? I believe this is the year for us to take a new course, I will bring real change and real reform.”
The Romney campaign has taken much more of a moderate approach in terms of its rhetoric and a stronger focus on bipartisanship in the final days of the presidential race. Romney touted his experience as governor of a highly blue Massachusetts as proof that he can reach across the aisle to accomplish his goals, pointing out how he fixed the state’s budget deficit.
“Instead of fighting each other and blaming each other we recognized that both parties took some responsibility for the deficit and (that) we had to work together. So we cut spending, we didn’t slow down spending, we actually cut spending in our state…we were able to get (to a state) with a three billion dollar budget gap in my first year that turned into a 2 billion dollar rainy day fund by the time I left.”
As per his norm, Romney ended his address with inspirational stories of the average American’s potential for heroism, as well as his catchphrase of “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” that’s caused a minor controversy as it’s the same slogan of the show Friday Night Lights , whose creator, Peter Berg, has come out in opposition of the campaign’s use of the phrase. Romney simply referred to the phrase as being from “a fictional football team” without outright crediting the show by its title.
The supporters were especially fervent at this event, calling out in agreement speakers’ remarks at the event as well as “six more days” in a play on the chants of “four more years”. A large crowd formed around Romney for pictures and to shake hands before he boarded his campaign plane, which was in prominent display on the runway outside of the hangar where they had gathered.
Robin Adair, a single mother and software entrepreneur from South Tampa, attended the event in support of Mitt. Adair counts herself as a moderate Republican and feels that Romney’s economic policies would benefit small business owners such as herself. The Obama administration has caused a convoluted economic climate in her mind and she feels that a Romney White House would provide more incentives to invest in businesses like her own as well as easing taxes which would encourage investors.
“People are holding on to capital, when I got started I got started by small investors that were willing to take a chance and put their money out there. There’s still money out there, people are holding on to their money…because they don’t know how they’re going to be taxed.”
Ken Hoyt, a retired businessman and self-described “life-long” Republican, feels the most pressing issue is the United States’ deficit and that Obama has not only not done enough to fix it but has made the issue even more severe.
“It’s really all about the future of the country. I’ve got two grandkids, two sons, it’s just not right to saddle them with debts. Whether it’s from going to college or the budget deficit…it’s just not right. We’ve never lived that way as a country.”
Not everyone present was in support of the candidate, as with any event protesters were present.
One gentleman in a zombie mask touted a megaphone and warned the supporters of the repercussions of a Romney win. Requesting to be only referred to as “a gentleman who showed up to the protest as a zombie against Romney” by CL, he stated that America is “screwed” if Romney is elected president. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, he feels that the modern Republican party are “sticking their heads in the sand over global warming.” The “gentleman” also warned that jobs will be increasingly outsourced to countries such as China and that government support programs like Medicare and Pell Grants will be all but eliminated.
“The future that Mitt Romney wants to create in America, the neo-feudalist dictatorship where all the wealth is concentrated into the hands of the few while the middle class get’s crushed, is an apocalyptic wasteland. The Romney economy is a zombie economy for the American middle class.”