WESTERVILLE, Ohio - Mitt Romney warned an auditorium of college students and faculty not to believe everything they hear during the upcoming election cycle, saying that sometimes what politicians say is "not a perfect example of what they're going to do."
In his second trip to swing-state Ohio since becoming the presumptive nominee earlier this month, Romney spoke at Otterbein University, touching on such topics as student loans; the national debt; borrowing money from parents for your first business; and the wisdom of choosing his major, English, in a challenging economy.
Addressing the campaign directly, Romney turned to a Founding Father. "I love what, was it John Adams, who said that facts are stubborn things," said Romney. "Words are easily malleable but facts, they're stubborn. And so I suggest that in the campaign ahead and in the campaigns of various officers running for various positions ahead, that you consider not just the brilliance of their words, but also the facts of their record and what they've done. And that will be the best predictor, I believe, of what they'll do going forward."
Romney hosted a roundtable discussion with seven students on the cusp of graduation prior to delivering a guest lecture to a larger group. During the roundtable, one student inadvertently dissed the candidate's college major, English, when explaining why she thinks some of her peers have a hard time finding jobs after graduation.
Romney, moments later describing how engineering degrees were in demand in his home state of Massachusetts, wondered out loud whether more students would choose to major in more difficult majors if they knew the job prospects would be better after graduation.
"And I wonder whether you get information coming into college that says you know, this course of study will lead to this kind of jobs and there's a lot of opening here as opposed to - as you said, English - and as an English major I can say this," said Romney, as the female student who had questioned the major quickly apologized, saying, "Sorry."
"No, that's alright, that's alright," Romney continued. "As an English major your options are uh, you better go to graduate school alright? And find a job from there."
"You really don't want to take out $150,000 loan to go into English because you're not going to be able to pay it back. You might want to think about something else that meets your interest. Was this - did you - was this just sort of a blind guessing game or did you have this information as you were beginning your education?"
In his speech to the larger group, Romney spoke about student loans - loans that several of the students in the roundtable indicated they benefited from - only briefly, explaining how the upcoming generations will end up paying for the debts accumulated now.
"You look at your student loans, but you should also have, in addition to your student loans, an understanding of the federal loans you've got, that you're going to inherit," said Romney. "And that there is a party, and a stream in this country, that says, 'Let's keep spending and spending and spending and build up the national debt, and my generation will never pay it back. We'll be dead and gone.' That interest and that principal gets paid by you guys."
"And for year after year after year, your income taxes are going to include a very substantial amount to pay the interest of the debt that we're accumulating now," he said. "That's why it's so critical, in my view, for you to consider what's in the best interest of not just yourself, but of America, over the coming century, and it is to stop the excessive overspending."
Last week, Romney indicated that he would support Congress in temporarily extending the current low rate on subsidized student loans due to the state of the economy.
Speaking about the need for students to get jobs and even start businesses, Romney drew on the experience of Jimmy John, the owner of the sandwich giant Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, whom the candidate said he recently met with.
Accusing the president of attacking successful Americans, Romney urged students to borrow money from their parents - as John did - if they need to do so to succeed in starting their own businesses.
"Even now, I believe you're watching a president who is trying to deflect and divert from his record by trying to find ways to, if you will, attack fellow Americans, between rich and poor, and other dimensions," said Romney. "This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we've seen in our country's history."
"We've always encouraged young people, take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business," he said.