DES MOINES - Mitt Romney today said he would lead Americans out of President Obama's "debt and spending inferno," warning a crowd that the country faces a financial crisis that "threatens what it means to be an American."
Romney spoke today in the very room where he stood on the night of the Iowa caucuses in January, the candidate's first trip to the state since then, this time no longer focused on the close results at the polls but instead solely on President Obama, whom he accused of "feeding" rather than "putting out" what he dubbed the "spending fire."
"A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and across the nation and every day that we fail to act that fire gets closer to the homes and the children we love," said Romney. "Now you know also that this is not solely a Democrat or Republican problem. The issue isn't who deserves the most blame. The issue is who is going to do what it takes to put out the fire. Now the people of Iowa and America have watched President Obama nearly four years now. Much of that time, with Congress controlled by his own party. And rather than putting out that spending fire, he's been feeding it."
"He has spent more and borrowed more. The time has come for a president, a leader, who will lead. I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno. We will stop borrowing unfathomable sums of money we can't even imagine from foreign countries we're never even going to visit," said Romney. "I will work with you to make sure we put out this spending and borrowing fire."
Romney said that if elected, he will stop the government from expanded by moving federal programs to the state-level, where states can decide which of the often-repetitive programs to keep, and which to dismantle. He repeated his plans for entitlement reforms to program such as Social Security and Medicare.
"Of course, Medicare and Social Security are also very easy to demagogue, and I expect the president to continue doing that throughout the campaign," said Romney. "But Americans are on to that game, and I'm not going to insult the voters by pretending that we can just keep putting off entitlement reform. I'm going to continue to speak honestly to the American people, and, if elected, I will do what is right for the people of this great country."
Noting that a "big turnaround" is necessary, Romney offered a fictitious example - to the laughter of the crowd - to demonstrate how slow programs work on a federal level versus a state level, quipping, "Nobody hears Washington D.C. and thinks that's the home of efficiency."
"Just imagine if the federal government was the sole legal supplier of cell phones," said Romney. "First of all, they'd still be under review, alright, you'd be listening to hearings in Congress on cell phones. When they were finally approved, the contract to make them would go to an Obama donor. And of course they'd come out looking about the size of a shoe, with a collapsible solar panel attached to power it. And of course campaign donors would be lining up see who could get appointed to be the App-Czar."
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama reelection campaign, criticized Romney for not acknowledging his record during his time as governor in Massachusetts, writing in an e-mail statement: "While Mitt Romney's speech today was heavy on dishonest claims about President Obama's record, it was noticeably lacking in any mention of Romney's own record of increasing spending and debt in Massachusetts and his failure to lay out a plan to pay for his $5 trillion tax plan. It's not surprising why Mitt Romney consistently ignores his record as governor on the campaign trail- he raised state spending 6.5 percent each year and left Massachusetts with the largest per-capita debt of any state in the nation."
"And while President Obama has put forward a plan to reduce the national debt by more than $4 trillion over the next decade, Mitt Romney refuses to say what spending cuts or tax increases he'd make to cover the cost of giving $5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans," said Smith. "Mitt Romney simply wants to return to the same policies that caused the crisis and weakened the middle class: budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and letting Wall Street write its own rules. Loading the country up with debt while giving tax breaks to the wealthy-America can't afford Romney Economics."