Fresh after cementing his front-runner status for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney made a campaign swing through the Twin Cities on Wednesday with his sights set clearly on President Obama.
“It’s time for us to bring a new definition to hope,” Romney told the cheering crowd. “Hope should mean a good job and good paycheck, not a faded word on an old bumper sticker.”
Romney spoke for about 17 minutes in front of hundreds of Republican activists at a Freightmaster trucking warehouse in Eagan. The former Massachusetts governor made the visit less than a day after a resounding win in Florida’s primary, handily defeating former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former
Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Romney stepped up on the stage after being showered with glitter, similar to so-called “glitter bombs” that met other Republican candidates who visited the state.
“This is confetti, we just won Florida,” Romney joked. “That’s not all I got in my hair; I glue it down every morning.”
Romney never mentioned his Republican rivals, firmly challenging Obama’s record during the last three years. He highlighted Obama’s statement before taking office that if the economy didn’t turn around, he’d likely be a one-term president.
“We are here to collect,” he said to thunderous applause.
“America finally needs a leader who understands how the economy works and how to get it working for the American people,” Romney said.
Romney pledged to eliminate Obama’s health care overhaul on his first day of office and “cut and eliminate government programs.”
He said the election is about more than defeating the president, “this is about restoring American greatness, a fight for the soul of America.”
Before leaving, Romney led the crowd in singing part of “America the Beautiful.”
“That’s the second time I have done that,” he said to applause.
Former Gov. Tim Pawenty introduced Romney. Pawlenty became Romney’s campaign co-chairman after dropping out of the presidential race after a weak showing in the Iowa caucuses.
Pawlenty joked that his campaign was shorter than fellow Minnesotan Kris Humphries’ marriage to Kim Kardashian.
Pawlenty said Romney is man of bullet-proof character and integrity.
“You are never going to wake up in the morning and be embarrassed about something you read about Mitt Romney,” Pawlenty said. “He’s a good man with good values.”
Before Romney spoke, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak held a news conference outside the warehouse blasting Romney, calling him a right-wing extremist who is out of synch with Minnesota and the nation. Rybak, who is vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, framed Romney as a failed governor who easily changes positions to appease the political winds of the moment.
“Mitt Romney has been extremely inconsistent his entire career,” Rybak, noting the candidate’s role leading health care reform in his home state and then opposing Obama’s similar national health care initiative.
Rybak also said Romney, a multimillionaire, has always sided with millionaires over the middle-class.
“Mitt Romney stands for one thing: trickle-down economics,” Rybak said.