Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Thursday, August 9, 2012

DES MOINES – Mitt Romney challenged what he said is the serial failure of President Obama and outlined a five-step plan to overcome the economic recession at a public rally in downtown Des Moines Wednesday morning, his fourth campaign visit to Iowa this year.

“The president’s policies have simply failed American people in terms of getting people back to work with rising incomes,” said the presumptive GOP nominee at Des Moines Public Schools Central Campus.

“If they are want to re-elect President Obama, they have a pretty good idea of what is coming. And it will be chronic high levels of unemployment as far as the eye can see, stagnant wage growth and the potential for economic calamity given the massive debt and unfunded liability this country has,” he said to roaring applause from a crowd of about 700 people.

Sitting among the audience were former GOP Gov. Robert Ray, U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, and Rob Taylor, chairman of the Dallas County Republicans.

Sandwiched between two American flags, the former Massachusetts governor spoke about the hardships thrust upon middle class families by the economic downturn — a major theme in his 25-minute address — through stuffy conditions of the auditorium the school district superintendent said isn’t air conditioned to save money.

It was a fitting venue to present his platform in which education reform is one element in a five-thronged approach Romney said will “get America working again” and restore 12 million new American jobs during his first term in office.

Identical banners on each side of Romney laid out the steps: create jobs in the energy sector, improve the school system, enhance trade relations, spend less at the federal level, and promote small business.

The early morning rally followed Romney’s fund-raising success Tuesday night when he racked up more than $1.8 million in donor support at a private event — the biggest campaign fund-raiser in Iowa history.

Romney’s opening remarks Wednesday acknowledged the severe drought plaguing Iowa this summer, an appeal to an audience whose six electoral votes could make the difference for him come November.

From behind a wooden lectern and a sign reading “The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class,” the Republican challenger invoked the rhetoric of individual achievement, painting a picture of Americans that are less dependent on the government while poking fun at Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment.

He drew one of the most boisterous cheers of the morning after he insisted that Obama’s welfare reform pays people for not working, one of his most recent allegations against the president.

“In a very careful executive action, he removed the requirement of work from welfare,” Romney said. “It is wrong to make any change that would make America more of a nation of government dependency. We must restore, and I will restore, work for welfare!”

Obama officials say the administration’s move on welfare allows both Republican and Democratic governors and state leaders flexibility and preserves the work requirement.

Citing the $15 trillion deficit, 42 straight months of an unemployment rate hovering at 8 percent and a spike in health-care premiums, Romney underscored the struggles of the middle class, a group of voters he hopes to win over before the fall.

Dan Greteman, 47, who grew up in Carroll, said he received an e-mail about the event and wanted the governor to feel supported in Iowa.

Greteman, who now lives in Des Moines and works at an insurance agency, said Romney’s experience as a businessman will pull America out from its debt and reel in the economy.

“It’s critical that we get people back to work,” he said before Romney took the stage. “People need a purpose and work to make them feel uplifted.”

He said he found the governor to be “personable, critical and credible.”

First time-voter Hector Salamanca, 19, came to gain a better sense of Romney’s platform, especially on the economy and immigration policy. Currently he’s undecided but leaning toward Romney, he said.

“It’s important for the future of the USA,” the full-time student said. “I want to make sure the American dream is still possible for my children.

President Obama can answer those concerns himself when he returns to Iowa next week for his fifth trip to the Hawkeye State this year, stopping in seven different cities for campaign events.

He kicks-off his three-day tour Monday in Council Bluffs and Boone before heading to Oskaloosa, Marshalltown and Waterloo on Tuesday. First Lady Michelle Obama will join him on Wednesday’s final leg through Dubuque and Davenport.