Mitt Romney thinks one of the Republican Party’s biggest problems is its inability to convey a coherent message. He believes that is the reason Republicans do not secure more votes from Latinos and young people. It is a trend the former Massachusetts governor hopes to change.
Romney campaigned in western Iowa on Thursday. He started the day by speaking to a crowd of 200 inside the Morningside College Student Center in Sioux City. Romney began his speech by asking the crowd how many students were in attendance. Several raised their hand.
“I don’t know how any young person in this country would vote for a Democrat,” Romney said, eliciting chuckles from the audience. “My party is focused on making sure this country is strong and prosperous for you.”
Actually, Romney does have an idea why college students lean toward the Democratic Party. It is all in the messaging. Toward the end of his speech, Romney was asked about the GOP’s weaknesses. “One of the things our party needs to do better, and I need to do better, is communicate our message more clearly,” Romney said. “Most young people don’t vote for us. We’re not doing a very good job getting out message across… Ours is the party of opportunity.”
Romney’s speech resonated with Morningside College student Taylor Phipps. “I thought it was really good,” Phipps said. “I was really interested in everything he had to say. This is the first I’ve had to listen to a presidential candidate. I didn’t really know what to expect. I like that he’s looking toward next generation, looking to help us out.”
President Obama was a frequent target during Romney’s Sioux City speech. He pointed out that Obama was in North Carolina on Thursday, trying to sell his latest stimulus package to the American people.“Someone needs to tell him the stimulus is dead, gone, disappeared,” Romney said. “That bill of his was turned down by the Democrats. It isn’t going forward. I don’t know what he’s campaigning about. What he needs to do is stop campaigning, and go back to Washington.”
The 2008 Iowa Caucus runner-up has made infrequent visits to the state during this campaign cycle. However, Romney remains near the top of the Iowa polls. He pledged to become a more regular visitor as the 2012 caucus draws closer. “I will be here again and again, campaigning here,” Romney said. “I’d love to win Iowa. Any of us would.”
Ray Hoffman was the Iowa GOP chairman four years ago during the Iowa Caucus campaign. He believes Romney has a good chance to win it this time. “He gave a nice little talk,” Hoffman said. “It was good to see him. I haven’t seen him since the last cycle.”
Hoffman adds that the GOP presidential race is still very volatile. “There’s so much time left. There’s going to be some ups and downs with the different candidates. Some will drop off before we get there.”
A lot of conservatives are still leery of Mitt Romney for his past support of abortion and same-sex marriage. However, the only question in Sioux City regarding his social stances came from an Iowan who believes Romney is too pro-life. Beth Schopis questioned a statement Romney made on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News program regarding a personhood amendment. Schopis asked Romney why he wants to ban all forms of birth control.
“I don’t,” Romney responded. “Life begins at conception. Birth control prevents conception.” The former Massachusetts governor later added that he would like to “let the states create their own legislation in regards to life” and told the crowd that he is “not out campaigning for an amendment”.
Indeed, this campaign stop was clearly focused on President Obama and the economy. Romney never mentioned any of his GOP opponents by name, but reminded the audience that Rick Perry’s state of Texas “was the first state to pass a Dream Act”, granting in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. Romney told the crowd that he vetoed a similar bill while he was governor of Massachusetts.
The speech concluded with Romney repeatedly saying, “I love America” and vowing to do what he could to return the nation to prosperity. He followed the Sioux City visit with trips to Treynor and Council Bluffs. Romney declined an invitation to appear at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s presidential forum on Saturday. Most of the other GOP candidates will speak at the event.
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