Romney Announces Presidential Campaign
But references to Europe were laced with grave statistics about the state of the American economy, a pragmatic plea that Obama's response to the economic crisis has failed and hurt the lives of everyday citizens. "When he took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it worse, he made is last longer," Romney said. "Three years over, over 16 million Americans are out of work, and millions more are unemployed. Three years later, unemployment is still over 8 percent." Romney enters the presidential race as the one of the weakest front-runners in Republican Party history, buoyed by a strong organization and establishment support but weighed down by concerns he's not a real conservative. Many conservatives have demanded he apologize for passing a health care law in Massachusetts that included a mandate to buy insurance - the same individual mandate included in Obama's health care bill. Romney has thus far refused, arguing states should be allowed to address their health care problems individually. He addressed the issue directly, though briefly, in his speech, saying his state was giving away a billion dollars in free health care to people who should be able to pay for it. "I took on this problem and hammered out a solution that took a bad situation and made it better - not perfect" said Romney. "But it was a state solution to a state problem." He continually reiterated that Obama had wrongly concentrated authority in a centralized Washington bureaucracy instead of letting state and local government tackle problems. At one point, he also said he would force Washington to respect the 10th Amendment -catnip for some conservative activists. "This president's first answer to every problem is to take power from your local government and state government so his so-called experts in Washington can make decisions for you," he said. "With each of those decisions, we lose more of our freedom." As Romney was making his announcement, would-be rivals were taking shots at his health care past. "The reality is that Obamacare and Romneycare are almost exactly the same," said Rudy Giuliani, who's considering a run, in New Hampshire, according to the AP. "It's not very helpful trying to distinguish them. I would think the best way to handle it is to say, it was a terrible mistake and if I could do it over again, I wouldn't do it." Sarah Palin, in Massachusetts as part of her tour across the Northeast, also criticized Romney. "In my opinion any mandate coming from government is not a good thing, so obviously ... there will be more explanation coming from former Gov. Romney on his support for government mandates," Palin told reporters. Romney, meanwhile, also used part of his address to criticize Obama's "timid and uncertain" foreign policy, which he says undermines allies, like Israel, while emboldening enemies. Although he credited Obama for ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden, the substance of his critique was little changed from how he attacked the president's foreign policy before the 9/11 mastermind's death. "A few months into office, he traveled around the globe to apologize for America," he said, drawing boos from the crowd. Romney did outline one concrete policy proposal: He said he would cap the size of government at 20 percent of the GDP. Otherwise, he offered little in terms of legislative specifics, besides again calling for the repeal of Obama's health care legislation. The site of his announcement is not a coincidence: Romney must win the Granite State to claim the GOP's nomination. He's a near-favorite son, having served as governor of neighboring Massachusetts, and he owns a home in the state that will host the first presidential primary next year. Romney leads all early polls in New Hampshire, and has focused much of his early campaign efforts there.