Romney says he is "in sync" with Tea Party

BERLIN, New Hampshire Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:49pm EDT

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with employees during a visit to Stanley Elevators in Merrimack, New Hampshire August 16, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with employees during a visit to Stanley Elevators in Merrimack, New Hampshire August 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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BERLIN, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, seen by many as the choice of moderate Republicans in 2012, sought to widen his appeal on Wednesday by saying he was "in sync" with the conservative Tea Party.

Romney met with a group of about 25 steelworkers at a campaign stop in the northern New Hampshire town of Berlin.

The former corporate raider, who has a net worth of about $250 million, got a less rapt reception than at some of his meetings with fellow business professionals.

The workers peppered Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, with questions about why cutting government spending would stimulate the economy, how he would adequately protect Social Security and whether he considered himself a member of the Tea Party.

Romney hedged on the latter question.

"I don't know that you sign a membership," he said. "What I consider myself is someone who is in sync with the Tea Party."

Many Tea Party members don't see themselves as "in sync" with Romney, however. In Massachusetts he helped author the statewide healthcare mandate that was an inspiration for President Barack Obama's 2010 national health reforms

Obamacare and Romneycare, as they are derisively referred too, are disliked by the Tea Party as an example of government overreach. Romney has defended the state law while promising to repeal the federal version, should he be elected.

Romney reiterated his view that military spending should be exempt from any attempt to balance the federal budget. Defense spending accounts for about half of discretionary U.S. federal spending.

"I am not in favor of cutting defense," he said. "Some people would like to cut that down dramatically, not me."

Romney echoed many of the talking points voiced in Bedford, New Hampshire, by Republican rival Rick Perry, the governor of Texas.

"Our regulation, our bureaucracy, our tax rates are so much higher than other countries," Romney said. "The right answer for America is to get government smaller."

Perry's arrival on the scene could pose problems for Romney. Some pundits see the Texan as more able to unite the various Republican factions behind him.

Romney, who on Monday appeared to target Perry with comments about the need for private-sector experience in the White House, declined to take the bait again.

"I'm not looking to be in a give and take with Gov. Perry. He's a fine guy, a fine governor."

The Republican race to find a challenger to Obama is "still a bit of an open field," said Romney. "We welcome folks in, the more the merrier. If others want to get in, the waters' fine."

(Reporting by Jason McLure in Berlin, writing by Ros Krasny, editing by Todd Eastham)

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Comments (15)
anon5 wrote:
What about Ron Paul, the Godfather of the Tea Party. IS he not relevant or what? He almost won the Iowa straw poll and we don’t hear anything about him.

Aug 17, 2011 4:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gc5341 wrote:
Mitt Romney should be denied the presidency because of Romneycare. We know his record and implementing government run healthcare is not something a true conservative would do. I don’t care what Mitt has to say about this issue or any issue because he committed the cardinal sin that no conservative can commit. There are graveyards littered with dead democrats who fought unsuccessfully their entire lives to force socialized medicine down our throats. Yet Mitt Romney, a republican Governor and so called conservative actually achieved it in Mass. Romney inspired President Obama and his minions to go forward and forced government run healthcare down our throats.

Aug 17, 2011 4:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
whyzup wrote:
Big mistake, Mitt. I know you want their funding, but yoyu have to give up TEA if you want to have a chance to win.

Aug 17, 2011 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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