Sunday, January 20, 2008

Florida is a "must win"

Romney focuses on Florida after caucus win

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 19, 2008

JACKSONVILLE — Just hours after winning the Nevada Republican caucuses today, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the upcoming Florida primary was a must-win.

"If you want to get the nomination, if you want to win the presidency, you gotta get Florida," Romney told an eager crowd at the University of North Florida.

The Romney campaign was upset with early losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, but has remained above water with wins in Michigan, Nevada and Wyoming.

He started his speech here as the polls were closing tonight in the more competitive South Carolina primary. Early results showed Romney in fourth place.

Romney received a warm welcome in Jacksonville where, despite a daylong rain and nearby tornado warning, about 700 people attended the evening rally.

The large crowd forced campaign officials to set up extra seating.

Endorsed by a handful of North Florida Republicans, including the sheriffs in Jacksonville and Nassau and St. Johns counties, Romney told his audience he was the candidate to spark changes in the economy, illegal immigration policies and the health care system.

Earlier in the day, the former Massachusetts governor released a $230 billion economic stimulus plan, much of which revolved around tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

The plan is more expensive than proposals from Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, his two targets during his 30-minute speech in Jacksonville.

"A number of people running for president, including those two, want to run the largest economy in the world and the largest government in the world, but they've never had a job in the private sector," Romney said.

Romney's economic plan, which would let businesses write off equipment expenses for two years and permanently reduce taxes for the lowest income bracket, is also more aggressive than the $145 billion plan that President Bush unveiled on Friday.

Romney avoided details of his plan during the rally. Instead, he said his two-dozen years in the private sector made him the best candidate to help turn around a sluggish economy.

"If you don't learn how to change in the private sector, you're out of business," Romney said during an anecdote about a 1962 Rambler American.

"Whether that's making cars or selling insurance or selling homes or selling clothing or whatever you do, in the private sector you get better every year or your competitor will."

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