Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney played up his outsider status today in a speech delivered to CPAC in Washington, D.C.
“I am the only candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat, who has never worked a day in Washington,” Romney said, according to prepared remarks, referencing his three Republican primary opponents and President Obama. “I don’t have old scores to settle or decades of cloakroom deals to defend.”
Romney faces longtime Texas congressman Ron Paul, former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, and former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum in the Republican primary. The winner of the Republican primary, of course, will face President Obama, who currently works in Washington.
Romney used today’s Washington address to discuss the ills of this city. “A free people, pursuing their own dreams and achieving success in their own ways – that is what has propelled America and made us the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world. Many politicians on both sides of the aisle have forgotten that – if they ever really understood it at all. They have fallen under the spell of Washington.”
Romney did not clarify how he would not fall “under the spell of Washington” if he is elected president of the United States, but he did promise not to stick around here for too long. “I will come to Washington, and, with your help and guidance and prayers, I will change Washington,” Romney said in the penultimate paragraph of his address. “And then I will leave Washington and go back to the life and family I love.”
He used today’s speech to reiterate his promise to reduce the size of the federal government:
As president, I will not just slow the growth of government, I will cut it. I will not just freeze government’s share of the total economy, I will reduce it. And, without raising taxes or sacrificing America’s military superiority, I will finally balance the budget.
And that will start with the easiest cut of all – I will eliminate Obamacare.
I will dramatically reduce the size of the federal workforce. And, for the first time ever, we will tie the compensation and benefits of federal workers to those in the private sector. The principle here is simple: public servants should not get a better deal than the citizens they serve.
But cutting spending and bureaucracy alone won’t be enough. In their current form, Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable. And we cannot afford to avoid our entitlement challenges any longer.