Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Romney stakes claim as conservative during DU visit

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is staking his claim this week to the conservative end of the GOP spectrum. On Oct. 10, he told an audience of hundreds at DU’s Sturm College of Law that he is the only true Republican in the race.

Cheered repeatedly by a crowd built largely of supporters, Romney chided his party’s congressional leaders and rival Rudy Giuliani for what he considered excessive spending, while remaining firm in his opposition to gay marriage and government-run universal health care.

“I’m not happy with all the things the Republicans have done in Washington and Congress,” he told reporters before the public town hall meeting. “Change is going to start with us.”

Romney told the overflow crowd of more than 400 that the U.S. is at a critical juncture in its history. Touting his experience working with troubled companies as a businessperson, Romney said he has the experience to turn the country around. He said he favors budget reductions, largely through the use of a line-item veto to target earmarked spending, but said he would not favor an immediate pullout of Iraq.

Outside the law school, a handful of protestors chanted and waved signs, chastising Romney for his stand on U.S. detention policies at Guantanamo Bay. It was unclear whether the candidate was aware of the protestors, and the event inside went on without interruption.

In opening remarks and a 20-minute open question period, Romney was clear on several controversial issues: 

•    America should reject European-based economic models, such as higher corporate and individual taxes to fund public social services. Instead, the country should return to “individual responsibility, less taxes and less government.”

•    The country needs to shore up its borders and enforce immigration laws, while supporting legal immigration. Those found to be here illegally should not get amnesty but should be required to see legal status just like someone entering from outside the country. “I’m not looking to round up all the illegal immigrants and ship them out of this country.”

•    On the matter of gay marriage, he said, “I think marriage should be a relationship between a man and a woman.”

As he appeared to be making a determined bid to separate himself from Giuliani and other Republicans, including heated exchanges with Giuliani in a televised debate a day before his DU visit, Romney told reporters he believes the entire nominating process will be over by Feb. 5, following a flurry of early primaries.

As for the mood of the nation and whether a war-weary nation may be inclined to vote Republicans out of power no matter who the nominee is, Romney said he understands the country wants change, but said Americans don’t want a sharp turn to the left.

“I am not planning on being a sacrificial lamb,” he said. “I’m planning on winning this.”

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