DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO Mitt Romney stressed the need to sharply reduce poverty in America Friday night during a speech to members of the Republican National Committee.
“Under President Obama, the rich have gotten richer, income inequality has gotten worse and there are more people in poverty in American than ever before,” the former Massachusetts governor told a large crowd aboard the USS Midway Museum on San Diego Bay.
He said only Republican and conservative principles, such as focusing on education, fostering strong families and creating jobs, could solve a problem that President Lyndon Johnson first tackled 50 years ago.
“His heart was in the right place, but his policies didn’t work,” said Romney, contending Obama has failed in similar fashion to Johnson. “Their liberal policies are good for a campaign every four years, but they don’t get the job done.”
Romney’s speech comes just a week after he shook up the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination by surprisingly announcing he’s interested in making a third presidential run.
He was the fourth potential candidate for the GOP nomination to speak at the RNC’s three-day session in Coronado and San Diego, following physician Ben Carson and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday, and outgoing Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday afternoon.
Perry, who also sought the nomination in 2012, told a large gathering at the Hotel del Coronado that his track record of job growth in Texas and his more assertive approach to conflicts in the Middle East would restore America’s clout.
“We can fight for forward-looking solutions that create record growth, unleash our entrepreneurial spirit and re-establish our moral authority at home and abroad,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong in America that can’t be fixed with a change in leadership.”
Romney is considered one of three top establishment Republican candidates in what’s been called the most wide open presidential race in many years, primarily because the Democrats won’t be running an incumbent and no Republican is a prohibitive favorite.
The other establishment candidates are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Perry is among another group of candidates whose supporters are farther to the right. That group also includes Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. In all, as many as a dozen Republicans are considering a presidential bid.
While Romney’s move toward another candidacy shot a bolt of energy into the evolving GOP presidential dynamics, it was not without controversy. Some Republicans have openly questioned whether his time has passed and even some former supporters are discouraging Romney from another bid.
Still, he has a strong political network from his 2012 campaign and most agree he would be a formidable candidate.
Romney didn’t mention any of the other Republican candidates, but he attacked the likely Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He said the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which she helped craft, was akin to smiling and hoping that would bring peace.
“It’s a foreign policy that was characterized by speaking loudly and carrying a little stick,” he said, contending that a more assertive approach would be superior.