Editor’s Note: Updated with crowd response.
During a Sept. 26 speech in Toledo, Mitt Romney outlined five major areas he would address if elected president: energy, trade, jobs, national debt and small businesses.
The Republican nominee started the day in Westerville, Ohio, then visited Cleveland and ended in Toledo. President Barack Obama also appeared in Northwest Ohio on Sept. 26, speaking at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green.
Romney said he would take “full advantage” of America’s energy resources, prompting a cheer from the crowd of about 3,500 at the SeaGate Centre.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure we create as much energy of our own as we can,” Romney said.
North American energy independence would lower gas and electricity prices, opening opportunities for job creation and the recovery of the manufacturing sector, Romney said.
A second focus would be on expanding trade.
“We can compete with anyone in the world, so I’m going to open up new markets for us to be able to sell goods to,” Romney said.
Romney also vowed to “crack down” on China, saying the country keeps its prices artificially low, putting U.S. companies out of business.
“They should not steal our jobs,” Romney said. “The president has had multiple opportunities to label China a currency manipulator. He hasn’t. I will.”
Romney’s third focus would be revamping job training.
“Instead of having 47 different federal training programs that report to eight different agencies, with all sorts of overhead, I’m going to take the dollars the federal government spends, bundle it up, give Ohio its fair share and let Ohio create its own job-training program,” Romney said.
Fourth, Romney vowed to balance the budget.
“We’re not going to have entrepreneurs go out and start a new business or big companies come here … and hire more people if they think we’re on the road to Greece — and that clock up there looks like Greece,” Romney said, referring to an electronic national debt calculator near the stage displaying $16 trillion and counting.
Romney said his opponent added $6 trillion to the national debt since he took office and, if re-elected, will increase debt to $20 trillion by the end of his second term. The interest alone is more than the total spent on housing, education, agriculture and transportation, Romney said.
“It’s not good for the economy, it’s not good for jobs and I, for one, think it’s immoral to pass that obligation to our kids,” Romney said.
The fifth topic Romney addressed was small business.
“We need to champion small businesses,” Romney said. “[Obama] wants to raise the tax rate on it. … I’m going to lower the tax rate. … I’ll create jobs. He’ll kill them.”
Romney spoke beneath a banner reading “We can’t afford four more years,” and his speech often focused on the need to prevent Obama from securing a second term.
“I know they are out there chanting at his events, ‘Four more years.’ Do you want four more years with 23 million people struggling to find a job? Do you want four more years where half our kids coming out of college can’t find a college-level job? Do you want four more years of trillion-dollar deficits?” Romney asked, with the crowd responding “No” to each question.
Romney said he has confidence America “will come roaring back” —as long as Obama is not re-elected.
“Were we to re-elect President Obama, there is no question in my mind we face four more difficult years,” Romney said. “When I become president, we’re going to get this economy going again. … This is not a mystery. We know how to do it. America has faced challenges before when we have strong leaders, when we have people that know how to give a hand up, not a handout.”
To loud cheers, Romney vowed to repeal Obama’s health plan, commonly referred to as Obamacare, saying it will deter businesses from hiring new employees.
“Obamacare is really exhibit No. 1 of the president’s political philosophy and that is that the government knows better than people how to run your lives,” Romney said. “I believe in free people pursuing their dreams. I believe in freedom.”
Romney said Obama’s policies aren’t working — and he hasn’t come up with any new plans.
“His campaign slogan is ‘Forward.’ Forward to the same ideas, the same approaches he’s had for the last four years,” Romney said. “Nothing is going to change and we know the results of the last four years.”
Romney acknowledged many Americans are suffering as income of the average middle-class family has decreased even as the cost of food, electricity and health care have increased.
“I know the president cares about America and the people of this country,” Romney said. “He just doesn’t know how to help them. I do.”
Romney said Americans are charitable and compassionate to the elderly, disabled and poor.
“They need our help and they receive our help,” Romney said. “No nation on Earth is as charitable as the people of the United States of America. … At the same time, we will insist that these people have the opportunity for work if they can.”
Romney also shared a story about U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who grew up poor but within view of wealthy neighborhoods.
“He said, ‘I never heard my parents say, “Why don’t those people give us some of what they have?”” Romney said. “Instead they said, ‘Aren’t we lucky to live in a country where if we work hard and take some risks and get as much education as possible, we can achieve that as well?’”
Romney said America’s economy cannot be driven by “government bureaucrats.”
“America’s economy is driven by freedom. It’s not guided by government,” Romney said. “That’s what makes America how we are. We’re a nation of dreamers.”
Romney said the world looks to the United States for strength and leadership.
“The world needs America to lead; our families need America to lead; our future needs America to lead,” Romney said. “If I’m the next president of the United States — when I’m the next president of the United States — I will do everything in my power to keep America strong.”
Romney told the crowd he believed they would help him win Ohio.
“The president just the other day said, ‘You can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside,’” Romney said. “Well, we’re going to give him that chance on Nov. 6.”
Among the area residents who attended Romney’s speech were Catherine Lee of Perrysburg and her 8-year-old granddaughter Nathalie Rawlins.
“I just feel it’s so important at this young age,” Lee said. “My daughters are in their 40s and when [Ronald] Reagan came to Perrysburg, I got them out of school, too.”
Although they weren’t able to get tickets to go inside, Lee also took her granddaughter to Maumee in July when Obama spoke at the Wolcott House.
“Whether we support him or not, he’s our president. We have respect for him,” Lee said. “His bus came right close to us so we got to wave.”
Joe Young of Oak Harbor sat in the front row of the bleacher seating, holding a Romney/Ryan sign.
“I like everything that he is,” Young said. “He represents what I believe.”
Pamela Burger of Oregon said America needs Romney’s leadership.
“We don’t need what’s been going on this past three and a half years,” Burger said. “It’s just a scary thought to think what could go on in the next four years with Barack Obama not having to be responsible to the American people with another election coming up. I just hope people research for themselves and see where each candidate stands on the issues and realize we can’t keep going where we’re headed.”
Burger said Romney has “great energy” and “speaks from the heart.”
“It’s like hearing your next-door neighbor talk. I think he identifies with the everyday person and I believe his heart is there fighting for every American no matter what,” Burger said. “He wants to see America succeed and he’s got the leadership experience.”
Romney supporter Lizzette Proshek of Toledo said she was curious how many people would show up to a Republican event in largely Democratic Toledo.
“We’re happy to see the outcome,” Proshek said. “I don’t like our giving away our country. Everything is just given. If you need a house, if you need food, if you need health care, it’s all free. We can’t do that anymore and Mitt Romney seems to agree.”
Opening speakers included University of Toledo senior Patrick Richardson, Lucas County Republican Party Chairman Jon Stainbrook, Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou, State Sen. Mark Wagoner and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta.
A small group of protestors gathered across the street from the SeaGate Centre, holding signs reading “Obama for all (Romney for some),” “Mitt Not Fit,” “47% No Head, No Heart, No Mitt” and “Romney knows where the jobs are: China, India, Mexico. He sent them there.” A man in a George W. Bush mask waved fake money and a man in Romney mask held a sign reading, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
In-person voting begins in Ohio on Oct. 2. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9.
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