The San Francisco Bay sparkled under blue skies as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney took the stage at the Fairmont Hotel to address supporters on Sunday afternoon. The event began with a moment of silent prayer for those murdered in Aurora, Colorado on Friday. In light of the tragedy, Governor Romney stated that his talk would be less partisan than usual, focusing on his vision for turning America around.
After anecdotes recounting the innovative genius of entrepreneurs met across the country over the past few weeks, Romney emphasized five themes vital to the renewing of America.
- Energy--Horizontal drilling technology is a game-changer. The United States will become the leading energy producer in the world under a Romney administration. Inexpensive, abundant domestic energy will fuel the on-shoring of manufacturing jobs and help restore economic growth.
- Trade--The United States is the most productive country on earth. Consequently, free trade is a force for higher-paying domestic jobs. Romney will focus on expanding global trade.
- Budget and Entitlements--We are just one budget deal away from ending international talk of America's decline. Romney promised to cut spending and reform entitlements, leading the way to a balanced budget, thereby removing an enormous drag on economic growth.
- Education--Human capital is a key to American exceptionalism. The United States will not continue to enjoy the world's most productive economy if its underperforming public schools are not reformed.
- Economic Freedom--Romney cited the Declaration of Independence: our individual rights emanate from God and not government. Each of us must be free to pursue happiness in his own way. For some, this means starting and building a business. The American entrepreneurial spirit is being strangled today and needs to be brought back.
The talk was short on specifics but the contrast in tone to President Obama's "You didn't build that" economic doctrine could not have been starker.
A highlight of the event was Romney's acknowledgement of the many Blue and Gold Star families in the audience. One couple I chatted with lead a local Blue Star chapter--they had driven to the speech at the campaign's invitation after dropping their son at the airport to deploy on his second tour in Afghanistan. The candidate used the occasion to sound a Reaganesque note in support of a military so strong as to deter challenge from any would-be adversary.
Romney mentioned two names bruited in the media as possible vice-presidential picks. Former secretary of state (and Bay Area resident) Condoleezza Rice, brought up in the context of a recent discussion on education, and Marco Rubio, cited as an example of the all-American immigrant family success story. Both mentions were met with sustained applause.
Romney was poised and confident, speaking without notes--at one point bringing HP CEO Meg Whitman, who was standing at the back of the hall, into his discussion of school reform--and managing to sound optimistic without understating the economic straits we find ourselves in. By the end of his talk, I found myself believing that the former Massachusetts governor can win, and in so doing can lead us back from the rapidly approaching precipice.