and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
January #2

On the campaign trail with Mitt Romney
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, January 10, 2008

A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me ...

- Elvis Presley

So there I was, standing behind a screen in a Nashua school cafeteria with Mitt Romney and New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, who'd endorsed the former Massachusetts governor.

We were told by the young organizers of the Ask Mitt Anything rally that when the music came up, we were to go around the screen, where we would find ourselves facing cameras and reporters. Since I was there to introduce the presidential candidate, I assumed he would follow us out, and thought Sen. Gregg would lead.

Gregg said he thought I should lead. While we discussed it, Elvis started singing, and Mitt Romney, a grandchild on his shoulder, bounded around us and strode out into the crowd; "A little less conversation, a little more action please" ...

The cameras crowded behind them, and a staffer came to my rescue and pulled me onto the platform beside the candidate and his family. I'd been told I would introduce Mitt - but he already had the microphone, and was introducing me! For a moment I was confused, and wondered if it was I who was running for president.

Well, heck, anyone can: "Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby announce my candidacy and my platform of change, hope, peace, love and understanding. Together we can!" That's what you call Deval Obama rope-a-dope campaigning.

I think I'll pass.

So: "Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to introduce Mitt Romney, because it's the least I can do. A few years ago, he was out in Utah, minding his own business and running the Winter Olympics. I was worried about no longer having a taxpayer friend in the corner office, because Jane Swift couldn't win. So I thought: 'How hard can it be to call the Olympic chairman?' and dialed 411.

Then there was Mitt's voice on his answering machine.

"I know you're busy now,' I said, "but when you're done with the Olympics, please come home and save Massachusetts." This week, I thought New Hampshire voters should know that he did just that.

I acknowledged the many Massachusetts escapees in the audience and the other southern New Hampshire voters who know Massachusetts through our shared media. I reminded them about our initiative petition process, which they must envy; that Proposition 2/ is only a law that can be repealed; and that our tax burden is - to put it mildly - much higher than theirs.

I said that if Mitt Romney had done nothing in four years but carry a veto pen, it would have been enough. But I also told them how he prevented a retroactive capital gains tax, and brought "personal responsibility" into the health insurance debate.

I didn't see Holly Robichaud, a Republican blogger who's been anti-Romney since he didn't pick her client for lieutenant governor. She wrote, "He entered the rally via a roped off entrance. He did not work the crowd. You could not reach out and touch him like the other candidates we had seen. Romney spoke along with Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation..." (She didn't mention anything I said).

Robichaud continued, "After his speech he fielded many questions from the audience. Surprisingly there was only one question from a New Hampshire voter. The rest of them were all from out of state."

Here's the truth: The media had a roped-off section for their cameras; Mitt entered through the crowd, and when he was through speaking, people rushed the platform, autograph books in hand. I was there, trying to get out of the way.

Robichaud gives the impression that the questioners were plants from Massachusetts. No, one was from New Jersey. He said he wouldn't have a chance there to ask about the most important issue for his kids, who were with him - a balanced federal budget. Another was from Virginia.

A New Hampshire man, originally from Arkansas, asked about shrinking government. Mitt said he'd do his best.

Where does it come from, the Massachusetts hatred of Mitt Romney? Talk-show host Michael Graham thinks it's envy, and he could be right. But there's also the fact some insider elephants have not forgiven Romney's move against Jane Swift. (I say, again, "Mitt, thank you!"), or his choosing Kerry Healey over Jim Rappaport to be his lieutenant governor.

Which reminds me: This oft-repeated accusation that the governor didn't support Healey when she ran in 2006, and/or, that he didn't use her talents as lieutenant governor.

She was doing all the municipal stuff, all the criminal justice issues, for four years. I was supporting her in 2006 and the last thing I wanted to see was Mitt Romney hanging around, making it look as if she couldn't stand on her own electoral feet.

Oh, and by the way, she was with me at the Nashua rally, and the next day emceed Mitt's Nashua news conference on tax issues; at which I told New Hampshire voters how he never stopped trying to roll back our income tax rate.

P.S.  Correction on last week's column: I described John McCain as a grown-up. That was before his childish behavior during the ABC debate.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.