BELLEVUE, Wash. – Buoyed by fresh polling showing him gaining in some key Super Tuesday states and opening a lead nationally, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Friday looked past his GOP opponents and hammered President Obama
Rallying a large and enthusiastic crowd here one day before Washington state’s Saturday caucuses, Romney trained his focus exclusively on Obama as he delivered twin stump speeches, first to his primary rally venue and later to an overflow room.
“This guy is out of ideas and he’s out of excuses, so in 2012 we’re gonna get him out of office,” Romney said. “The reason he’s got to go is that he would take America in a place we wouldn’t recognize. He wants to fundamentally transform America. I want to restore to America the principles that made this the strongest nation on earth.”
For the second straight day, Romney did not mention any of his Republican rivals by name -- and for the first time in weeks he made no reference to them at all -- a sign of the former Massachusetts governor’s growing confidence of his standing heading into next week’s critical Super Tuesday contests.
Romney drew unusually loud applause as he ticked through components of his tax overhaul plan – to lower corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, to cut personal income tax rates by 20 percent across the board, and to abolish the alternative minimum tax and what critics call the “death tax” — the federal estate tax.
“Sometimes I don’t think Democrats recognize that there is a connection between the actions they take and what happens to real people,” Romney said. “And so they plan on raising taxes and when they do they don’t know that they’re hurting working families and making it less likely for jobs to be created.”
Romney tore into Obama over his stewardship of the nation’s economy and accused him of “crony capitalism” for awarding federal dollars to companies that are run by some of his campaign donors.
“I just think we have to have leaders who will tell us the truth and are willing to live with integrity,” Romney said. “I won’t embarrass you in the White House. I won’t be playing 90 rounds of golf in my first term.”
Romney was hoping his morning visit to Bellevue, an affluent city just outside of Seattle where Microsoft and other tech firms are headquartered, would help organize Republicans here in advance of Washington’s caucuses. His state campaign chairwoman, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, asked for a show of hands of those who had never before attended a caucus. More than half the people in the crowd raised their hands.
“There’s gonna be a bunch of states that are gonna make their minds up in the next couple of days, but you guys are first,” Romney said. “Most of you don’t know how to get to a caucus site… It won’t take a long time, it’ll just make a big difference.”
Romney told his supporters to visit a website, www.romneywa.com, to find the caucus location nearest their home, and urged them to turn out. And as supporters arrived at and left the rally, Romney’s aides handed out flyers with detailed instructions for how to caucus.
Romney’s aides seemed unprepared for the large crowd here. As on Thursday afternoon in Idaho Falls, Idaho, aides scurried to assemble an overflow space at the Highland Community Center to accommodate hundreds of supporters who stood in line outside and did not fit inside the main hall.
“What a Seattle welcome!” Romney said after he walked on stage. “You guys, you’re terrific! What a way to get up in the morning!…I wish I had my wife here, let me tell you.”
The crowd repeatedly interrupted Romney with loud chants of, “Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!” And twice, when Romney said “if” he was lucky enough to get to the White House, a supported shouted to correct him: “When!”