February 10, 2012

Live Blog: Mitt Romney comes to Maine

By Jason Singer jsinger@pressherald.com
Assistant City Editor / Online

6:54 p.m. — Romney received a nice applause at the end of his speech, but not as raucous as you sometimes hear at political speeches.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney greets supporters at a campaign rally in Grand Junction, Colo. on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

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That may be a function, however, of the crowd's demographics. Romney tends to have older, less die-hard supporters than some other candidates. (Rep. Ron Paul or Barack Obama, anyone?)

Anyway, it's been fun. Check out tomorrow's Press Herald for a full recap and reaction from tonight's event.

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6:52 p.m. — Romney just ended his town-hall event with a scathing criticism of teachers unions: They have too much power, too much money and don't like to test students, he said.

In fact, Romney mentioned his dislike for teachers unions at least three times tonight.

Romney said Massachusetts — under his leadership — instituted mandatory testing in schools, something No Child Left Behind later adopted.

He also said Mass. had the best-rated schools in the country during his tenure, and said it gave scholarships to high-school students who finished near the top of their class.

Romney said America must incentivize success like he did in Massachusetts.

"This is a Capitalist society we live in. But that's not just financial capital, it's human capital," he said. "We need to invest in our students."

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6:41 p.m. — As president, Romney said he'd increase natural-gas production. That set off a debate between crowd members about fracking, which temporarily drowned out Romney.

Romney, however, shouted over the ruckus and eventually regained control.

"70 percent of the gas wells are already being fracked today. So guess what, it's already being done," Romney said. "And it's not affecting our water source. ... I don't recall seeing anything about our water being on fire."

"If you don't want oil from Canada and if you don't want gas from America, vote for Barack Obama."

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6:38 p.m. — "How would you encourage more private charity as opposed to government (dependence)?" one crowd member asked.

Romney said charity — whom you give it to and how much  — is up to the individual. But he said government shouldn't be in the charity business and implied it shouldn't fund nonprofits.

"I like PBS, I like Big Bird and Burt and Ernie," Romney said. "But I'd rather let Big Bird get to know Kellogg's Cornflakes and not (have us) borrow from China to pay for it."

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6:30 p.m. — Romney said more people have fallen into poverty under President Obama's watch than under any other president in history.

A man in the crowd yelled that there was a recession, apparently trying to absolve President Obama of some of the blame. Romney, however, wouldn't budge.

"You're right. It's been a recession for three years," Romney said.

I don't have the dates in front of me, but I'm pretty sure Romney's statement is factually incorrect. Nonetheless, the crowd loved his answer.

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6:25 p.m. — Romney said Obama has weakened the United States military. He said our Navy has the fewest number of ships since 1917, and the Air Force has the fewest number of planes since 1947, "when it was created."

As president, Romney said he'd increase ship building for the Navy from 9 to 15 ships per year, a proposal which drew loud applause.

Romney also said having a larger military would deter future wars and deter future attacks on the U.S.

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6:22 p.m. — A woman asked Romney why he "stashed his money away in the Cayman Islands."

She got booed by some in the crowd, cheered by others. But Romney brushed off the question, saying he doesn't manage his own money — a blind trustee does — and Romney doesn't have any control over it.

(Continued on page 2)

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