Romney touts business background


Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney campaigns at Keiser University in Sarasota on Wednesday.

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 10:35 p.m.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised his voice and extended his hand to mark the point.

Facts

Mitt Romney's stand on Florida issues

Here are Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's positions on issues important to Florida voters:

National catastrophe insurance: Open to the idea but against imposing unreasonable costs on states that are less exposed to natural disasters.

Offshore oil drilling: Supports "reasonable approaches to offshore drilling.'' Says federal government and states should work together on plans to open new offshore drilling sites "to balance American energy production and independence with environmental protection.''

Right-to-die: Believes cases like Terri Schiavo's "should normally be left in the hands of the courts'' and not solely left up to families to decide.

Climate change: As Massachusetts governor, backed out of regional pact to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants because it did not cap the higher energy costs it might place on business and consumers. Says energy independence is the way to deal with global warming.

NASA funding: Supports current funding levels for NASA and believes "that a strong nation should have a strong space program.''

Everglades: Supports federal funding for Everglades restoration, and says he would "work to ensure that the appropriate funding is authorized and actually spent on restoring this great national treasure.''

Alternative energy: Supports increased funding into research and development of any technology that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Cuba: Supports current U.S.-Cuba policy.

Immigration: Opposed McCain's immigration bill, although he called it reasonable in 2005. Supports building a border fence with Mexico and stationing National Guard troops there. Calls for tamper-proof ID card so only legal immigrants can work. Opposes policy allowing legal immigrants to host extended families in U.S.



Source: The Associated Press.

"I will not need briefings on how the economy works - I know how it works,'' Romney told a gathering Wednesday in Sarasota. "I've been there. I think it's time to have a president who understands the economy, understands jobs, understands why jobs come and go.''

As he travels throughout Florida in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary, Romney is employing the same strategy that helped him win Michigan, pitching himself as the only candidate with the business savvy to steer the country from recession, fix complicated government programs like Social Security and solve health care issues.

Addressing students and supporters at Keiser University, he promised to deliver "the strongest economy in the world'' and invoked his 25 years working in the private sector. With only four years in public office as governor of Massachusetts, he has spent the least amount of time in office of all the Republican candidates.

Romney and his supporters consider that an advantage. "I like to say being in politics for four years was not long enough to badly affect me,'' he said to applause.

The former governor's success on the campaign trail has been volatile, with groups of voters coming to his side only to be wooed away as the Republican field began to shift dramatically. But now Romney's bid is showing signs of traction, partly, political experts say, because the timing is finally right for his message.

The economic climate became a national focal point in the past month, with President Bush releasing a stimulus plan and voters saying the economic issues, namely jobs and the rising cost of insurance, were their most important concerns.

The message has resonated in Florida particularly, where the collapse of the housing market has led to state budget gaps and job losses.

Polls show Romney, with three primary wins already under his belt, among the leaders here. The closed primary could also give him an edge over Arizona Sen. John McCain, who won New Hampshire and South Carolina partly because of his popularity among independent voters.

Romney's opponents are not letting him monopolize the economy angle, nor do they agree Romney's short time in public office is helpful.

"I was mayor of a city that has the 17th largest economy in the world,'' Rudy Giuliani told a crowd last week in Fort Myers. "I had to help straighten out the economy of New York City, and our policies worked.''

Romney, who has been criticized for being overtly political in his quest for votes, named his Florida bus tour "Change begins with us,'' a theme popularized when outlier candidates Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama won the Iowa primary earlier this month.

"Washington is fundamentally broken,'' Romney said Wednesday. "Sending the same people back, just in different chairs, isn't going to change anything.''

He stressed that "new faces and a private sector approach'' could solve the health care crisis, insuring everyone without a government takeover. "You don't want the guys who managed the Katrina cleanup managing health care, you want the dynamics of the free market enterprise system.''

Romney was a vice president of a management consulting firm before founding Bain Capital, a venture capital and investment firm, in 1984. He was the lead organizer of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

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