At CPAC, Romney Takes on Obama
By Joel Achenbach
Two years ago at CPAC he was an unknown, of questionable conservative credentials, but he rocked the house with a Reaganesque speech that hit all the political-right notes.
Last year he showed up, battered from the campaign trail, and dropped out of the presidential race.
This year Mitt Romney was welcomed as "one of us," in the phrase of the man who introduced him, American Conservative Union chairman David Keene. Keene's glowing introduction came off as almost an endorsement of Romney as the standard-bearer of the conservative movement, and Romney obliged with a stump speech that took on President Obama directly and repeatedly.
He opened with a joke: "I've got to get through this speech before federal officials come here and arrest me for practicing capitalism."
He closed with a call for a missile defense program, vigilance against foreign adversaries, and then suddenly veered off and made a reference to the recent comment by Attorney General Eric Holder that, when it comes to talking about race, Americans are cowards. America, Romney thundered, "will never be a nation of cowards!" The audience members leaped to their feet and began chanting "USA! USA! USA!"
In between he took a shot at government spending: "It's not the time to fulfill every liberal dream and spend the country into catastrophe."
He criticized President Obama's health care and education proposals: "These plans mean universal government. That model has never worked anywhere in the world."
He pinned the economic crisis on government officials more than private sector executives: "We will vigorously oppose those politicians who are poised to use their own f ailures as an excuse to undermine the free enterprise system."
And he endorsed a big tax cut, one that would reduce the tax on capital gains and dividends for "middle class Americans" to zero.
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