Presidential hopeful campaigns in Aiken

By: Diane Cho Email
By: Diane Cho Email

January 29, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---Aiken County got a taste of presidential politics today.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney may be a Republican candidate in 2008.

He earned his fortunes by becoming a venture capitalist, and now he hopes his successful business skills will change government in the White House.

Before well-spoken conservative Romney took center stage in Aiken, he laughed as friend and political backer Senator Jim DeMint (R., SC) took personal jabs at his friend's success as governor in a state primarily filled with liberals.

"Winning governor in the Massachusetts election was suspicious in itself," DeMint joked.

Speaking before a packed room in Aiken's Rotary Club meeting, Romney emphasized it was his ability to turn a $3 billion deficit into a surplus and cut back on big government that got him elected.

"We cut back on the number of state agencies and balanced a budget without raising taxes," he said.

Romney says after spending 25 years working in the private sector, he wondered if his success there could be translated into the public sector. He says he soon realized after running the 2002 Olympic winter games that the idea was much the same.

"Business is tough. You're accountable for everything, and it's a very unforgiving industry. When you're in government, it's very forgiving. If you make a mistake just raise taxes."

Romney also called for making healthcare reforms to make it accessible to low-income families, changing America's dependency on oil, and making corporations in the US more competitive in the global economy.

While Romney may not be as recognized as some of the other GOP contenders, Mayor Fred Cavanaugh says his stellar background may launch him into a top contender pretty quickly.

Romney is the third presidential candidate to speak at the municipal conference center.

President Bush and Ronald Reagan also made stops in Aiken.

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