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VICA’s “Ask Mitt” Event Gives Insight Into Candidate

In a Valley Industry & Commerce Association event called “Ask Mitt Anything,” Massachusetts governor and presidential contender Mitt Romney discussed the economy, healthcare and immigration, among other issues, at the Burbank Airport Marriott. Throughout the Nov. 15 event, Romney had harsh words for the Democratic presidential frontrunners. “The Democrats are after your wallet,” he told the crowd of a few hundred. “If any of them won as President, the economy wouldn’t be as strong.” Romney, who served as vice president at consulting firm Bain & Company Inc. from 1978 to 1984 and went on to found venture capital and investment company Bain Capital in 1984, specifically attacked Democratic Presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards for what he implied was their lack of business experience. He said that the Democrats all “want to take the reins of the biggest enterprise in the world and yet not one of them has ever even managed a corner store.” Because of his background and interest in business, Romney, a Harvard Business School graduate, said that he originally had every expectation of remaining in the private sector. “I did not expect I’d be running for president,” he said. However, after being elected a Republican governor of a traditionally blue state, people began to ask if he could win the presidency as a Republican, he said. Romney credited his business background as being key to helping him close a budget gap of almost $3 million in Massachusetts. He said his business expertise also helped him turn around the 2002 Winter Olympics, which faced a $379 million operating deficit. As for the nation’s debts, Romney said, “We have a $9 trillion debt. You add the promises we’ve made and it ends up being $60 trillion.” America’s debts can be reduced by cutting back on earmarking and what Romney called pork-barrel spending. If elected president, Romney said that he would also look at programs and agencies that are duplicative and cut them. On a global front, the nation must contend with China and India in the marketplace, according to Romney. “They’ve been in poverty for hundreds of years,” he said. Now that they’re experiencing an economic shift, “They’re going to be tough competitors.” Asked to discuss the state of the nation’s healthcare system, Romney attacked Sen. Clinton in particular. “She’s trying to get your money. That’s what she’s trying to do,” he said. He continued, “We don’t need socialized Medicare, Hilary-care or anything like that.” A highlight of his governorship was last year, said Romney, when he proposed and signed into law a private, market-based reform that aims to ensure that every Massachusetts resident will have health insurance. He said the plan came to fruition after he listened to feedback from insurance companies who said that premiums could be cut in half if they were deregulated to an extent. Now, Romney said, insurance is more affordable to the masses. He acknowledged, however, that the very poor still may not be able to afford a health care plan. For them, the state is rerouting the funds that were once given to hospitals to treat the uninsured directly to the poor themselves. While Romney was critical of the Democrats as a whole, likening them at one point to two canoeists arguing as they approached a waterfall when they should have been paddling, Rudy Giuliani was the only Republican Romney targeted for criticism. He said that Giuliani should have prevented New York City’s decision to become a sanctuary city for immigrants. “I’m going to stop sanctuary cities if I’m president,” he said. Romney also opposes driver’s licenses in-state college tuition breaks for undocumented immigrants. To stop the hiring of undocumented immigrants, Romney said that he would develop an employment identification system. It would work via a database that employers could access to determine a prospective hire’s citizenship status. If a prospective employee’s information was not found in the system, the employer would have no doubt that the applicant wasn’t a citizen. Romney stressed, however, that he wasn’t anti-immigrant. “We love legal immigration,” he said. But, he added, “We also want to make sure we’re a nation of laws.” At several points during his appearance, Romney quoted Ronald Reagan. He also echoed President George W. Bush at certain times, saying that “there is evil in the world.” Hence, he wants to “strengthen our families, strengthen our economy, strengthen our military.” His goal is to add 100,000 troops to the armed forces. “This is a united nation , and we will overcome whatever obstacles we face,” he said. “Our future is even more promising than the glorious days of our past.”

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