MESA, Ariz. – In what is likely to become a recurring campaign theme, Mitt Romney on Monday focused on Medicare and Social Security in his harsh critique of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposal, saying the blueprint “had nothing to say about making sure those programs are solvent and permanent."
At a rally in Mesa, Romney made his first public comments on the budget, saying the president had been remiss in taking care of these programs, which the former Massachusetts governor called some of "the most important parts of our social safety net in our society."
"If I'm president," Romney continued, "I will save Social Security and Medicare and make sure they do not kill the future generations with excessive taxes."
Although Obama’s budget does not address the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare, Democrats say it would be foolish for the president to outline a sweeping plan in an election year knowing that Republicans would not negotiate seriously about how to deal with them.
Romney told the crowd that the president’s budget contradicted his earlier promises. "He unfortunately came out with another trillion-dollar deficit,” Romney said. “And if I recall, he said … that he was going to cut in half the deficit by the end of the first term. Well, he did just the opposite."
Protecting Social Security and Medicare has long been a part of Romney's campaign stump speech. But it has taken a backseat recently to a more canned address in which he has spent more time talking about his opponents.
Aware of immigration as a hot-button issue in Arizona, he also played up his get-tough approach. Speaking about his time as governor, Romney said: "We made sure we enforced immigration laws by empowering our state police to have the capacity to work with [Immigrations and Customs Enforcement] to get those who are here illegally out of our state.”
The Romney campaign has been humbled in some recent primaries, including last week’s losses in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado to Rick Santorum. He implored supporters not to take his first-place status in Arizona for granted: "We just need to make sure that each of you votes. And that you get your neighbors to vote. Take them to the polls, help get to the polls.”