COLUMBIA, S.C. – At a campaign stop in the Palmetto State today, Mitt Romney continued to promise to “unwind” what President Barack Obama has done during his term in the White House and spoke of his desire to return rights to workers.
“President Obama doesn’t understand it’s not government that makes people strong it’s the free people of America that provide our future and our strength,” said Romney, standing in the middle of the work floor at Colite International, a global signage company known for constructing some of the most well-known signs in the world, including those that adorn Holiday Inn hotels and Target stores.
Reiterating his criticism of the National Labor Relations Board, Romney told the South Carolina audience that they “know something about” the struggles of factories moving to right-to-work states, referencing the lawsuit facing Boeing after the company decided to move a 787 factory to the state.
Romney also accused Obama of “appointing some stooges to the National Labor Board,” arguing that the president is “giving favors” to unions.
“I happen to think American workers deserve a number of rights,” said Romney. “I think American workers have the right to work in a non-union state, and I don’t think the federal government should be able to tell South Carolina you can’t be right-to-work and have factories.”
Romney went on to outline other rights he believes union workers should have, including the right to a secret ballot, a 30-day notice before a union election and the right to know where their member dues are being given to prevent their money going to political parties that they might not support.
Ben LaBolt, spokesman for President Obama’s campaign, said in an e-mail statement, “Mitt Romney has opposed the president’s plan to invest in infrastructure and endorsed a budget plan that would wipe out investments in education and research and development. It’s clear that Mitt Romney is allowing the Tea Party, rather than sensible ideas from his own advisors, to drive his economic agenda.”
Today’s event, attended by nearly 150 people, was Romney’s seventh campaign stop in South Carolina since he launched his campaign. And while individuals associated with the campaign have said they plan to spend more time in the state as the Jan. 21 primary date grows closer, there are just three paid staffers on the ground.
This morning the campaign announced an endorsement from the fourth elected official, State Rep. Phyllis Henderson. Henderson joins Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Chip Huggins, who have already thrown their support behind Romney. State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, perhaps Romney’s most influential ambassador in South Carolina, also attended the event.
One less welcomed guest – an individual known to be affiliated with Occupy Columbia and who was wearing a T-shirt that read “Vets against VA Vouchers,” was quickly whisked out of the room as soon as she was spotted by campaign staffers. The campaign declined to comment on the individual’ removal.
Romney and his wife Ann toured the warehouse with one of the Colite owners and stopped after the event to glad hand with supporters, where one woman told Romney that she had “flirted with a few other [candidates]” but had always come back to him.
“Well thank you,” Romney said. “That’s the same thing my wife said when I started dating her.”
After snapping a photo with some young women who said they were affiliated with the College Republicans organization, Romney pointed the group out to Ann, who was equally delighted.
“The beauty team,” said Ann, clutching Romney’s hand. “Those are cute girls, they’re just darling.”