NEW YORK–Speaking just hours before President Obama takes the same stage, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined his vision today for foreign aid at the annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
The governor and former President Bill Clinton took the stage together after which Clinton delivered complimentary remarks praising the Romney’s support for the City Year service group when he was governor.
“He urged the Republican Congress to continue to support City Year, and he urged the White House to do it, and they did,” Clinton said of Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. “All of you should know that.”
Romney joked about the weight a Clinton compliment carries.
“If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good,” Romney said in response to Clinton’s praise. “All I gotta do now is wait a couple of days for that bounce to happen.”
Romney outlined in front of a respectful but silent crowd what he calls the “Prosperity Pact” program to rework the US foreign aid system, focusing on promoting work and fostering of free enterprise .
Working with the private sector, the program would aim to identify the barriers to investment, trade, and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. In exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on “developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights,” Romney said.
The aid will be coupled with trade and private investment to empower individuals, encourage innovators, and reward entrepreneurs.
“An assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise creates enduring prosperity,” Romney said, “It’s more reliable. It’s more durable. And ultimately, as history shows, it’s more successful.”
With international tensions the topic of much of the news today with the UN General Assembly and President Obama’s speech today happening in the same city, Romney said that this plan for aid is just one part in what he sees for America’s strategy during an “uncertain” time, alluding to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“We should not forget-and cannot forget-that not far from here, a voice of unspeakable evil and hatred has spoken out, threatening Israel and the civilized world,” he said. “But we come together knowing that the bitterness of hate is no match for the strength of love.”
Notably, Romney did not mention his opponent, President Obama, during his speech, a marked departure from recent days.
When talking about the challenges in the Middle East and what he called the “terrorist attack” which killed Ambassador Stevens, he omitted any mention of President Obama’s “bump in the road” comment which Romney has been highlighting on the trail.
President Obama will address the same crowd from the same stage later today.
Romney said he hopes a year from now he will return to the annual meeting as president “having made substantial progress” in the reforms he’s outlined in front of the group today.