Mitt Romney riding high in Minnesota visitby Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
Eagan, Minn. — Still riding high from his decisive win in Florida's Republican primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney didn't seem bothered a bit when a supporter of same-sex marriage threw glitter on him at the beginning of his Minnesota rally.
Romney, at least publicly, chose to laugh off the glitter attack as a celebration of latest in the race to become the Republican nominee for president.
"This is confetti. We just won Florida," Romney said. "We're going to win the White House next!"
Eagan police said they made no arrests. But as officers escorted the person behind the glitter attack out of the rally, several hundred people at the Freightmasters shipping company warehouse cheered.
Romney then went on to repeat many of the lines he used Tuesday during his victory speech in Florida.
He chastised President Barack Obama, accusing him of driving up the national debt and failing to deliver on his promise to create jobs. Romney pledged to cut spending and government programs and to balance the budget. He accused Obama, a Democrat, of favoring European socialism over American free enterprise.
"I want to restore to America the principles that have made us the most powerful nation on earth, economically and militarily," he said.
Romney did not mention the other Republican candidates by name. Instead he sought to contrast his opponents' years of experience in government with his lengthy business background. Romney is running against former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
"We've got a lot of good legislators, what, 535 people in Washington? They all think they ought to be president, but they haven't had the experience, in most cases, of actually leading, of having that responsibility," Romney said. "I think it's time to have someone who has had that responsibility."
Romney was on stage for a little more than 15 minutes. He came to Minnesota in hopes of winning Tuesday's Minnesota caucuses. His visit came just a few days after Iowa caucus winner Santorum drew a huge crowd in southwestern Minnesota.
Romney was accompanied by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a top surrogate campaigner.
As he campaigned for his former adversary, Pawlenty sounded a lot like he did before he ended his own presidential campaign last summer.
"Have you had enough of the Obama economy?" Pawlenty asked. "Have you had enough of Barack Obama's persistent and insistent... demands to raise your taxes?"
In a conference call with reporters earlier in the day, Pawlenty tried to lower expectations for Romney in Minnesota. He said he wasn't sure the former Massachusetts governor would win the straw poll on caucus night.
Four years ago Romney did win in Minnesota, defeating eventual Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who was Pawlenty's favored candidate at the time.
Among those who turned out to see Romney at the Freightmasters warehouse was Dick Lane of Shorewood.
"I'm an enthusiastic supporter," he said.
Lane said one reason for that is that he thinks Romney is moderate. He also likes Romney's business background. He called Romney "a good man."
"He's got a lot of experience," Lane said. "He's created jobs. He's a guy that I could trust to be a good president. "
Supporters weren't the only ones on hand to greet Romney. Before the event began Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak, vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said Romney's message will not sell in Minnesota.
"This is really a clear choice in this election," Rybak said. "It's between a president who fights for the middle class and... Mitt Romney, who has always stood up for only one single thing — and it's for tax cuts for those at the very top and for removing the regulation that would protect us from getting back in the mess get we into the first place."
Rybak noted that Pawlenty never won a gubernatorial election in Minnesota with more than 50 percent of the vote and said that if Romney becomes the GOP nominee, he won't win Minnesota.
- All Things Considered, 02/01/2012, 5:20 p.m.