Mitt Romney is running for president on a platform of returning many costs to the states.
Photo by R.L. Nave
Unlike his Republican predecessors who visited Jackson earlier in the week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney avoided mentioning his Republican presidential rivals by name. Instead, he focused his remarks squarely on President Barack Obama, a Democrat Romney hopes to challenge for the presidency this fall.
"If someone's looking for the things this president has done wrong, it's a long list," Romney told supporters at a Jackson rally early this morning.
Among the four candidates who remain in the race, Romney has captured the most delegates but has had trouble building momentum among conservatives in the Deep South and parts of the Midwest because of uneasiness about his Mormon faith and moderate stances on social issues earlier in his political career--to say nothing his waffling on those subjects as his political profile has risen in recent years.
At the town hall-style meeting at the Farmers Market, Romney eschewed wedge social issues, opting to hit Obama, who lacks a primary foe in Mississippi, on jobs and the economy. On day one of his administration, Romney vowed to repeal the Obama-backed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying slashing the program would save taxpayers $95 billion.
The nonpartisan fact-checking organization PolitiFact called Romney's claim false on its Truth-O-Meter, citing revenue-raising components of the 2010 law over the long-term. Still, PolitiFact determined that "according to the (Congressional Budget Office) analysis, a full repeal of the bill would reduce the deficit by $16 billion in 2016, much less than the number Romney cited."
Romney also vowed to slash government-supported programs such as Amtrak, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, saying the entities should support their activities without government support.
But where Romney's critiques on Obama are part of his building a case for his inevitability as the GOP nominee, his Republican challengers are hitting Mitt every bit as forcefully as they are the president.
Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich preceded Romney, holding capital city rallies Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Despite arriving an hour late, Santorum drew a respectable crowd to the Agriculture and Forestry Museum Wednesday. Santorum blamed an "over oppressive" government for the state of the American economy. Although he had plenty of ammunition for Obama, who Santorum accused of not understanding America, he also took aim at Romney for implementing a health care program during his tenure as governor that provided the model for Obama's landmark health bill.
"Mississippi, you have an opportunity to narrow the race between a conservative and insider moderate," Santorum said, referring to himself and Romney.
The other conservative vying for to be their party's nominee, Gingrich, also came to town this week. Although he took a similar tack, accusing Obama of declaring war on religious institutions and repudiating the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, Gingrich was much more professorial than either of the other Republicans, drilling down into nuts-and-bolts energy issues, including saying he would expand drilling on federal lands and in coastal waters.
The Mississippi primary takes place Tuesday, March 13. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas, also remains in the race but has not yet visited Mississippi. Other Republicans who remain on the ballot but who have bowed out of the race for the nomination, are Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.