Chambersburg Public Opinion
Pennsylvania’s Republican primary was two days away, but front-runner candidate Mitt Romney spoke Sunday near Greencastle as if the general election were upon him.
“This presidency has been a failed presidency,” Romney said of President Barack Obama’s time in the White House. “He is out of ideas and out of excuses, and we have to make sure that in 2012, we put him out of office.”
The former Massachusetts governor and likely Republican nominee was the main speaker during the Lincoln Day Dinner at Green Grove Gardens, an annual political event conducted by the Franklin County Republican Committee. About 600 people attended, and the packed house gave a standing ovation when Romney was introduced.
Committee Chairman Dwight Weidman said the dinner’s traditional program was rearranged slightly to accommodate the candidate’s busy schedule, which included a trip to Pittsburgh from Greencastle. The main course was served after Romney spoke for about 20 minutes and left with a commemorative Benjamin Franklin cane.
“What a welcome to Franklin County,” Romney said at the top of his stump speech. “I find it a pleasure to be here with so many Republicans. I feel bad that I’m between you and your meal, however.”
Romney began a critique of Obama’s presidency, pointing out that “about 24 million Americans” are unemployed and that “46 million Americans are on food stamps.” He talked about increased home foreclosures, a reduced median income and a decline in new business startups.
“The things he’s done have not helped,” Romney said of Obama. “The stimulus was 3 1/2 years ago. It’s expired.”
He spoke about “the road we’re on” under the current administration, one which he said leads to “a government that gets larger and larger and metastasizes into every aspect of American life.” He spoke critically of “Obamacare,” and said 38 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) goes toward government-related expenses.
“It’s just a constant effort on this president’s part to insinuate himself into the free economy and it makes it harder for the economy to get working again,” Romney said.
Romney said his plan includes reducing the size of the federal government and capping federal spending at 20 percent of the GDP. He also plans to repeal the president’s health care bill, establish new trade agreements with other countries and attain energy independence by focusing more on domestic fossil fuel as well as alternative sources.
Near the end of his speech, Romney turned toward national security and military spending. He said Obama has shrunken military funding by $500 billion since his election, and that the country’s forces are smaller than they have been “anytime since 1917.”
Romney said he plans to add 100,000 active duty personnel and increase fleet expansion “from nine ships a year to 17.” He said an American military that is “second to none in the world” is “the best ally peace has ever known.”
Closing his remarks, Romney called Obama “a president who is dividing America,” who “casts about for someone to blame” for the failures of his office. He said the country needs “a person who understands how to lead” with “integrity and honesty” to unite the country as “one nation under God.”
“I intend to be that leader with your help,” he said.
A man in the audience shouted out, “that’s what we want!” and the room erupted in applause.
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