Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mitt Romney comes out swinging at Salem rally

UPDATED (see DPVA response at the end.)

Ticket sales for the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney were all spoken for by Monday night. There were 1500 tickets available and over 1000 filled the gated area behind Carter Machinery, Inc. The area couldn’t hold more than 1500 according to workers who prepared the area.

The short notice had Carter service personnel scurrying over the weekend said Carter Marketing Manager Kelly McAteer. “It’s been a long 48 to 72 hours … we were happy to have him,” he said. Carter uniforms lined the stands and the monster equipment.

Buttons and $20 T-shirts lined the entrance to the event so did bomb sniffing dogs and secret service scrutiny. Carter truck mechanic Davy Trout was waiting in line with friends and quipped, “anything to get off work while on the clock.” He wouldn’t say who he was going to vote for though.

The hourly workers put the time spent preparing for Romney on separate work orders and it was unclear if their hours along with other expenses were an in-kind donation to the Romney campaign. Congressman Morgan Griffith said he would assume so but could not confirm it. The Romney campaign when asked did not respond to the question.

Norfolk Southern was the other option for the rally location and it was rumored that coal executives attended but the campaign did not respond when asked. McAteer did say he had heard that N&S was considered. Congressman Morgan Griffith in a phone call said prior to the rally there was an earlier meeting at the Medical Facilities of America and there was a representative from the Eastern Coal Council.

Congressman Griffith and Goodlatte

Griffith said that his “contact at Norfolk Southern wanted to make sure that the Romney people knew they were definitely available either here or in Norfolk.” He passed that information on and he plans to follow-up on it for the future. Griffith thought that Carter Machinery being smaller made it easier for them to jump at the chance.

Griffith spoke first at the rally. “The faces of coal are not just the coal miners but it’s the people who sell the equipment to the coal mines as well,” he said. Congressman Bob Goodlatte energized the crowd to a fevered pitch before introducing Jim Parker, Carter Machinery, Inc. CEO. Parker said referring to President Barack Obama, “one of the things we need to do if we are going to be successful is to recognize when we have made a bad choice and as quickly as we can – fix it.”

William Dunlap of Bedford was skeptical at the prospect of creating an environment for more jobs. “I don’t know how he is going to do it without congress working together – if they don’t it won’t work.”

Romney greets supporters

Political analyst Dr. Bob Denton thinks that the key demographic of married white women has shifted toward Obama. “Women are more complicated then men,” he said somewhat sheepishly. Thirty percent of the vote is in Northern Virginia and twenty percent is in Hampton and that leaves all of Southwest and central Virginia as the key to winning Virginia. Denton expects Southwest Virginia region to see many more visits from Romney.

Denton said the candidates would be hitting all the “up-for-grabs” states hard. The swing states have increased to twelve. Besides Virginia they include Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

An incumbent presidential candidate “gets a longer grace period” and therefore an edge said Denton. Voters are more apt to give the incumbent longer to turn things around. Independents in Virginia are only slightly leaning for Romney by one to two percent he said. “Look for ads targeted at the demographic or issue they are weakest in.” Obama will hit hard on jobs – it is his “Achilles heal,” he said.

Carter Machinery employees

To energize their base, candidates target their regions of strength. Then they move to the swing areas saving the “enemies territory for last,” Denton said. Late in the campaign he expects to see whichever candidate is trailing visiting Virginia often. He compared that strategy to Sarah Palin’s late visit to Roanoke to give Senator John McCain a boost in 2007.

The demographic shift in northern Virginia makes the Commonwealth more and more in play he said. Likeability plays a big part for voters who don’t pay attention to the issues. “Likeability relates to trust,” said Denton.

Romney in his 20-minute address wasted no time in hitting President Obama’s failure to reform the immigration system. He pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike Arizona’s immigration laws criticizing “Obama’s failure to lead.”

Romney introduced by Carter CEO Jim Parker

Romney gave no specifics on what his immigration plan would be but did say he would “get rid of Obamacare.” He said that Obama was in a tight spot because of his promise to turn the economy around. “If he couldn’t turn around the economy within three years he promised he would be a one term president … he said the private sector is doing just fine.” Romney pointed to the over eight percent unemployment rate and two percent growth rate. He said that people tell him “this private sector’s not doing so hot … and so the president had to change his tune” by convincing voters that “his programs just take a long time to be effective.”

Romney said he would “crack down” on China’s stealing of intellectual property and promised to get American “on the track to a balanced budget.”

The only thing Romney agreed with Obama on was that every American deserves a fair shot. “If they work hard, get an education and have the right kind of values they have a fair shot for a bright future,” said Romney.

He railed on Obama’s defense of teacher’s unions, jobless college graduates, using tax dollars for the businesses of his contributors, closing down coal mines and rejecting oil and gas exploration. “If there’s ever been a president of the United States that has not given a fair shot to the middle income families of America it is President Obama,” said Romney.

Romney said he would do just the opposite and promised “a resurgence that’s going to surprise a lot of folks.” He’d take better advantage of trade with other nations by opening up markets for American goods and faulted Obama for not negotiating any trade agreements during his term.

In relaying three business success stories Romney said they prospered because of free enterprise and not government intervention. “The creator endowed us with inalienable rights not the government,” said Romney.

In response to Romney’s remarks DPVA press secretary Ashley Bauman said in an email, “While President Obama has been committed to bolstering middle-class security for the American people, Mitt Romney has tried to distract from his past as a corporate raider where he and his company actively helped several companies eliminate American jobs and ship them overseas.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Election 2012, Elections, Local Events, National, Politics

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