ABC News’ Matt Stuart Reports: Former Gov. Mitt Romney R-Mass., addressed a crowd in Fort Myers, Florida yesterday where the conversation quickly turned to questions of energy and social security.
Standing in center stage, showing hometeam pride in a blue polo shirt with the Red Sox logo, Romney was asked repeatedly about energy and energy independence. One voter asked if Romney would commit to energy independence by the end of the decade. Romney claimed that wasn’t possible, saying only that America "can get on track to be there."
During the event, Romney tried to tie together the issues of energy independence and global warming, claiming that he considered himself a "thoughtful, creative and capable" environmentalist.
One woman in the audience followed up, asking if Romney supported solar and wind power. "Solar and wind have just as much potential," Romney said, "and out in Iowa, you can’t believe it out in Iowa there are huge windmills going up all over Iowa."
While Romney was supportive of wind farming, when the issue of wind farms arose as Governor, Romney previously claimed that he had "seen wind farms. They’re not pretty."
Romney later addressed wind farming again when speaking with reporters. When asked about drilling for oil in the Everglades, Romney said that the issue of wind farming in Nantucket sound had come up when he was Governor of Massachusetts, saying he "like[d] wind power and wind mills. I just don’t like ‘em there."
Romney also reiterated his call for a "Manhattan-style project" on energy and said he soon planned to unveil a dollar figure for a "substantial…enhancement investing in new technologies."
Social Security was also a big issue for the Florida crowd. After taking one question on the issue, another audience member asked Romney to be more specific about his plan. Romney suggested there were a number of ways to solve the long-term social security and that he would "work with Democrats…to come up with a plan that brings these together and allows us to solve our social security problems." Romney did not give his support to any specific plan, only saying that he was "against the one that involves raising taxes.
The comments follow an event in Fort Madison, Iowa on Friday tried to dismiss concerns of the impact wind farms have on the environment saying, "We’re gonna have windmills and I guess there will be a bird now and then that flies into a windmill blade. But, they fly into cars and windows and everything else…. [I]t’s a good thing to have energy from the wind because that means we don’t have to use as much energy from coal or oil or other sources that are CO2 emiting and overall that’s better for the birds, and for us, and for the bees."
Romney also used the approaching Halloween holiday to repeat a line on "Hillary’s House of Horrors," as he calls it, claiming an audience member at a previous event had said that Sen. Clinton "scares them." However, the original question in West Des Moines regarded the "Hollywood factor" in politics and not Sen. Clinton scaring them.
Finally, Romney was asked by a woman in the audience about what she perceived as liberal bias in Universities. Romney responded that it was, "not only universities," in his opinion, "It’s newspapers, alright? And broadcast…. [W]e’re simply gonna have to do a better job talking to our kids and talking on campuses." Romney later said that students can get a "wide array of view points" by "looking at the internet because they get both views there, talk radio, newpapers, [and] broadcast.
Romney travels to New Hampshire primary on Monday to formally file for the New Hampshire primary.