The Washington Post

Romney to visit expanding N.Va. tech firm

The Northern Virginia technology company that Mitt Romney will visit this week happens to be, if you must know, doing fine.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, right, talks with Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) in Greenville, S.C., on Jan. 21. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

That’s good for the company, good for McDonnell. But is that also good for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, whose campaign has stressed the nation’s economic doldrums and slammed President Obama for saying that the “private sector is doing fine”?

“We actually are doing fine,” Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun), the owner of EIT, said with a chuckle Monday after Romney’s campaign announced plans to visit the electronic engineering and manufacturing firm’s Sterling headquarters.

Of course, Romney doesn’t have to restrict his campaign stops to down-and-out employers to argue that as president, he could create a more business-friendly environment. Romney’s campaign said that during the visit, he will “discuss how as president, he will put jobs first, something President Obama has failed to do for the past three and a half years.”

May isn’t exactly sure why Romney chose to visit his company, which employs 300 at two offices in Northern Virginia and two manufacturing facilities in Danville. The firm opened its second Danville facility, a 60,000 square-foot plant, in November.

May figures someone involved in local Republican politics suggested EIT primarily because he’s a Republican small businessman.

“I obviously didn’t propose the program to him,” May said. “His staff asked if we would be willing to host his presence and the answer is, ‘Sure.’ ... They haven’t shared the gist of his remarks, but I would expect them to be business related, economy related and how are we going to improve the U.S. economy.”

If Romney talks about how Obama’s health-care overhaul could hurt small businesses — provided the Supreme Court doesn’t throw it out this week — May can be counted on to nod his head approvingly. May is concerned that it would drive up insurance costs, although he hasn’t fully crunched the numbers.

“We’ve done some really crude estimates and it is discouraging,” May said.

Whatever Romney illustrates with a visit to EIT, May is looking forward to the visit — if not the interruption to the work day.

“I have to admit I wasn’t wildly excited about it,” May said. “I’m looking forward to meeting governor Romney and all that, but we are, after all, a business.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.



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