Tuesday, May 09, 2006
WH'08: Romney in Iowa City
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made an impressive hour-long visit to the University of Iowa campus, where he met with students and local Republicans at an event hosted by the College Republicans and a business fraternity (I'm not very good at remembering greek letters -- it took me almost four years to get all the fraternities at my college down)
There was a great turnout (I counted 90 people, see photo LEFT), especially considering this is final exam week for the UI students, and the elevator talk after the speech was generally positive -- people thought he was genuine, knowledgeable, and credible as a potential President.
He spoke for 15-20 minutes or so before opening up to questions. His speech was good -- actually very similar to Pataki's in talking about his unexpected election in a Majority-Democrat state and his record of accomplishments in bringing about conservative change in three main areas -- cutting spending, improving education, and health care. I think he did a better job than Pataki, however, in point to concrete things that he's done, which is particularly notable given that he's been in office for all of three years, versus Pataki's twelve.
He then opened up to questions. He was asked about gas prices (and though he eventually got around to mentioning Ethanol, it seems to me he was talking about Nuclear fuel first), nuclear waste transportation (doesn't want Yucca, thinks it should be stored locally), and the effects of same-sex marriage in MA (doesn't think we'll know for a generation, but thinks we will see major problems with children being raise without both a mother and father).
He was also asked directly those who have concerns about his Mormon faith and whether he believes Jesus is the Son of God. (This question actually came respectfully Bobby Kaufman, Chair of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans and Rep. Jeff Kaufman's son, who first thanked Romney for donating to his father's campaign in '04) Romney began by saying he believes that Jesus is his personal savior, and then moved on quoting from Lincoln about our nation's political faith and how he doesn't believe that the U.S. has a religious test and JFK put this issue to bed in 1960 with his election. I had heard his whole explanation before -- I forget whether it was in a press story talking about how he's addressing the issue or on another blog, but this is definitely his practiced response to the question.
He was also asked directly if he was going to run for President. He said he is "keeping his options open," which he pointed out is not a passive activity. He said that he wanted to focus his time between now and November on electing Republicans around the country and then sometime after the elections would make a decision.
I think that's all I've got. Overall, I would say that my impression of Romney was improved quite a bit by the visit -- he definitely deserves his slot in the list of top contenders, but I still wonder with the importance of foreign affairs right now whether he would really be able to go toe-to-toe with McCain.
For more info, you can also check out the Daily Iowan coverage of the event. Iowans for Romney also has a post about the Coe College Commencement Address and another with a report from the ICA House Party in Cedar Rapids. Krusty also has a run-down from a "Korrespondent."
UPDATE: Yepsen's column today is also devoted Romney's recent visit -- seems to be impressing him, too.
I agree that he does need to bolster his foreign affairs resume if, at all, he can between now and his presumed run at the white house in '08. His Olympics experience just after 9/11 was a good exposure to national security issues however.