Mitt Romney comes to Tampa By Mitch E. Perry

03/12/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

The former Massachusetts Governor spoke for approximately 20 minutes at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

 

In his speech, Romney prominently played up his work as President and CEO of the  2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.  Those games were in financial disarray and had been damaged by allegations of bribery.  Romney is credited with turning that ship around and ultimately having the games make a $100 million profit.

 

In his speech, Romney began by talking about those Olympics, and then about the 1980 U.S. Hockey team which defeated the Soviet Union that year.  (roll tape#1 o.q.”that entire way”)

 

Romney’s anecdote fit the profile of what he’s trying to impress upon Republican voters.  That he’s a Ronald Reagan conservative, with a sunny optimistic view of America.

 Romney is a former CEO of Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, and the co-founder of Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm.  The New York Times reported Sunday his estimated wealth is around half a billion dollars…And his biography includes being Governor of Massachusetts the last 4 years.  (ROLL TAPE#2 O.Q. ‘ fight for small government”) 

Romney’s supporters say the fact he was a Republican in one of the most liberal states in the country shows that he has what it takes to win over the nation.  But critics say that Romney has conveniently changed his political persona, now that he’s not trying to win over Massachusetts citizens, but conservative GOP voters.

 

Most notably, Romney has changed his position on abortion rights.  He ran both in 2002, and in 1994 against Ted Kennedy as a pro-choice Republican.  He now says that the issue of stem cell research made him change his position.  Also, in his 1994 campaign for Senate, he spoke out in support of gay rights, but now has a much different perspective.

 

The New York Times reported over the weekend that in the months before announcing his bid for the nomination, Romney contributed tens of thousands of dollars to several conservative groups in a position to influence his image with conservatives

 

WMNF asked Romney about that story on Saturday night (roll tape#3 o.q.”they ask for your support”)

 

The Times reports that the recipients of those donations say the money had no influence on them.  But some of those groups have now turned supportive of him after criticizing him in the past.

 

Romney has made Florida one of his states he is focusing on being successful next year, when the Sunshine State will be among perhaps 20 states having Primary Elections in late January or early February.   Notably, he has hired several staffers who have worked with Jeb Bush.  He told reporters his efforts are worth it, even though a proposed Straw Poll of GOP candidates now will not take place later this year (roll tape#5 o.q.”how well they’ve done in Florida”)

 

In his stump speech, Romney talks about having America becoming energy independent.  He has said in the past that he supports drilling in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  WMNG.  WMNF asked him what about drilling off the shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast ? (roll tape#6 o.q.”carefully considered”)

 

In this presidential election of potential firsts, Romney’s religion poses a potential problem.  He is a Mormon, and polls have shown a small but steady portion of the electorate would be hestitant to vote for a Mormon for higher office.  The former Governor was asked about that Saturday night (roll tape#7 o.q.”happy to support ya”)

 

That’s Mitt Romney, who turned 60 years old today.

 

 

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