Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a packed Northwestern College gym Friday that a new jobs report shows why President Barack Obama should not return to the White House.
“This president tried, but he doesn’t understand what it takes to make our economy work. I do,” Romney said.
Labor Department data released Friday shows U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, below expectations. While jobs were added, and the August unemployment rate moved to 8.1 percent, below the 8.3 percent rate in July, Romney said that was only because more people gave up looking for work.
Romney noted the unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for all 43 months of the Obama presidency.
Romney held a rally at noon at the Bultman Center, where a large banner proclaimed “Are you better off?” A new series of Romney ads pose that question, too. Romney’s appearance in western Iowa preceded by about five hours Obama’s visit to Iowa City, putting the state in the national political spotlight.
“America is about to come roaring back,” Romey said after a thunderous applause accompanied his entrance. Campaign aides estimated the gym and overflow crowd at 3,500.
Romney gave a five-point plan on how he would improve the nation’s business climate in order to create 12 million jobs. His plan included more foreign trade agreements, reducing the federal debt level (he called the $16 trillion in debt “morally wrong”) and improving worker skills through a better education system.
Romney said that his plan to use all domestic energy supplies, including oil from the Gulf of Mexico, will create millions of jobs. He also pledged to ensure that federal regulations will encourage businesses to thrive and to reduce the taxation level on small businesses, so owners can plow earnings back into the business.
“I don’t want to transform America into Europe. I don’t want a bigger and bigger government, more and more intrusive, telling us how to live our lives. I instead want a government which encourages individual initiative and freedom,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
Romney continued Republican criticism of Obama for his July “you didn’t build that” remarks when describing the infrastructure that businesses use to flourish. Romney said that shows Obama is out of touch with business.
“If you get the Honor Roll, I will congratulate you and not the bus driver that got you to school,” he said.
Romney played to the audience, promising to bring more jobs. He raised concerns about the national debt younger generations will inherit. When Romney promised that as president he would lower the debt, he received a standing ovation.
“I agreed with a lot of what Romney said, especially about the national debt and eliminating it,” said Gerrit Wilford, 18, of Brandon, S.D., a registered Republican.
Wilford, who studies theater and history at Northwestern, said many of his friends hadn’t paid much attention to the two men running for president before Friday’s rally but came to the event to learn more about Romney.
Aubrey Lindgren, 20, of Amana, said she was leaning toward voting for Romney before and decided to come and find out more about his platforms.
“I want Obama out. He’s made so many promises that he hasn’t followed through on,” she said.
Her family owns an insurance business in Amana, and Lindgren said Obama didn’t do enough to support small businesses.
Cameron McKinney, 19, studies sports management at the college. He, too, saw Romney’s positions on business as a plus.
“I really like how Romney actually laid out his plans. I was leaning to the right before, but the speech really sealed it,” he said.