ABC News’ Matt Stuart Reports: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Wednesday that Sen. Fred Thompson’s departure from the race benefits his own bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
While speaking with reporters in Tampa, Fla., Romney said that “in some respects his departure from the campaign I think inures to my benefit,” arguing that both he and Thompson speak to social…economic…and foreign policy or national defense conservatives.”
He also said of Thompson’s departure that he would “miss Sen. Thompson’s humor at our debates,” and called him a “delightful character.”
Romney added, "We have to be distinct from Democrats to beat a Democrat," a line Romney has used previously to hit Mayor Giuliani for his more liberal social views. Romney himself was pro-choice until a few years ago when he became pro-life.
Romney was later asked about his new Spanish-language television ad voiced by his son Craig, who became fluent working as a missionary for the Mormon church in Chile. Romney frequently says on the stump that immigrants need to learn English because “in order to be successful in America, you have to learn the language of Americans,” but claims he issued the ad to make “contact with every person I can in this country regardless, regardless of the language they speak to encourage them to support my campaign.”
Romney added further that he would “also tell those who speak other languages, ‘learn English,’” although he does not say that in the ad, nor has he said as much while stumping in Florida this week.
Romney has said he is “uniquely” qualified to handle the recent economic crisis, but when asked if Sen. McCain had the experience to handle the economy, Romney said that, “You’d have to ask him that,” and went on to criticize McCain for voting against the Bush tax cuts.
Finally, with both members of Huckabee and Giuliani’s staff foregoing pay to conserve money, Romney claimed that a recent $5 million dollar fundraiser was “fueling a good part of our campaign now,” although only $1.5 million of that was designated for the primary. Romney has also given $17.5 of his estimated $250 million personal wealth to his own campaign through the month of September.
Romney joked the only change he’d make to his campaign finances was that campaign spokesman Kevin Madden, “shouldn’t get paid as much as he gets paid, but other than that…" he trailed off.
Madden, kneeling next to Romney to duck below the cameras and holding multiple digital recorders, pleaded "I’m on my knees here Governor.”