Presidential candidate Mitt Romney closed his first general-election bus tour of Ohio with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a native of the state, at his side, the two Republicans showing a united front in a pivotal state.
Boehner, at a rally in Troy, which is within his congressional district, said President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are blocking Republican legislation from becoming law and that electing Romney would break the logjam. Boehner stood alongside Romney and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican seen as a prospective vice presidential running mate.
“We need to get rid of that roadblock and we need to put somebody in the White House who understands our economy and who will work with us to put the American people back together again,” Boehner said. “It’s Mitt Romney.”
While Romney, 65, and Boehner, 62, haven’t had a close personal relationship, several Romney advisers have ties to Boehner and the Romney team has made a point of coordinating messaging with Republican lawmakers -- unlike 2008 nominee Arizona Senator John McCain.
Boehner strained to be heard over anti-Romney protesters who chanted “Romney, go home!” They continued their chants through Romney’s remarks, prompting his team to ramp up the volume. “Ohio’s going to make the difference,” Romney said. Ohio, I need you to help me become the next president of the United States.”
1961 Rambler Owner
Romney, Boehner, Portman and their wives also ate burgers at K’s, a local restaurant where the presidential hopeful met some of the local residents. Among them was a 20-year-old diner employee who owns a 1961 Rambler, a model Romney’s father, George, used to revive American Motors Corp when he served as chairman and president of the auto-maker. The diner worker, Michael Scheib, who bought the car three years ago, and he took Romney outside to let him sit behind the wheel.
The stop in Troy capped a Father’s Day for Romney that yielded thunderstorms and blazing sun, fans who waited hours in the rain for the candidate to serve them pancakes, and protesters who chanted their way straight through a series of Romney events to try to drown out his message.
The former Massachusetts governor, whose six-state bus tour moves to Wisconsin today, is sticking to the economy on the stump. He’s said he’ll promote a climate friendlier to small business, domestic energy production and job creation, while asserting that Obama has mismanaged the economic recovery.
The Wisconsin visit comes two weeks after Republican Governor Scott Walker defeated a recall effort in a June 5 election that may have boosted Romney’s prospects in a state Obama has counted on. Romney declined to predict his own fate in Wisconsin during a brief visit with reporters on his campaign plane last night to Madison, Wisconsin, from Dayton, Ohio.
Asked what he hoped to accomplish in Wisconsin, Romney, accompanied by his wife, Ann, and three of their grandchildren, said he would “just see a lot of good folks.” The Nov. 6 election is “just such a long way off” that it’s too hard to predict the outcome in the state, he said.
Romney and his advisers are using his first extended, general-election trip through states Obama won in 2008 to try to consolidate the support of former backers of other Republican primary contenders including Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul as well as independents.
Know Him Better
“There’s a process where they get to know Mitt Romney better,” said Stuart Stevens, a Romney message adviser.
Julie and Bud Fischer, both 60, of Troy, said they had supported Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, in the primary. “I’ve actually started liking Romney more” since then, Bud Fischer said. Julie Fischer said she backs Romney now because “I would like to have someone leading this country who knows how to make money and knows how to keep it.”
Romney, at a rally earlier in the day in Newark, Ohio, said, “We need someone who puts jobs No. 1, not Obamacare No. 1,” criticizing the president’s health-care law now under review by the Supreme Court. Obama has “tried to convince us that he’s made things better but he hasn’t made things better,” Romney said. “He’s failed. He deserves to go home and give someone new a chance.”
Protesters cast Romney, a former private-equity executive who co-founded the Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, as out of touch with the middle class. In Newark, they chanted, “job killer” and “go home, Romney.” A plane flew over the rally trailing a banner that said, “Mitt -- Can see 3 of your houses from here.”
In an interview that aired yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program, Romney said the Federal Reserve’s attempts at stimulating the U.S. economy “did not have the desired effect” and a new round of quantitative easing by the central bank wouldn’t fare better.
The second round of quantitative easing, a series of bond purchases referred to as QE2, “was not extraordinarily harmful, but it does put in question the future value of the dollar and it will obviously encourage some inflation,” Romney said. “A QE3 would do the same thing.”
On CBS, Romney also said the U.S. isn’t going to support European banks if the financial crisis there worsens.
The international economy is at its weakest since the 2009 recession and a failure by European leaders to manage the crisis overseas would add to risks of a bigger slowdown in the U.S. economy.
No ‘Checks to Europe’
Europe “is capable of dealing with their banking crisis if they choose to do so,” with a response heavily dependent on Germany, Romney said. The U.S. is “not going to send checks to Europe. We’re not going to bail out the European banks. We’re going to be poised here to support our economy.”
He declined to say what he would do, if elected president, about the policy Obama announced June 15 to end deportation of 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
“I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution,” Romney told CBS. He wouldn’t say whether he would keep the policy in place until Congress reached an agreement.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe said yesterday that congressional action on immigration is still needed. Obama is ready to sign into law the Dream Act, which is designed to provide a path to legal status for younger undocumented immigrants. That legislation has been stalled in Congress.
Obama’s policy would make illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children eligible for work permits, an election-year action with appeal to Latino voters. Plouffe said the president’s immigration decision wasn’t politically motivated and didn’t expand his executive powers.
The policy is “fully within our ability,” Plouffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program today. “This is not amnesty, this is not citizenship.”