Romney defends Wall Street but vows to fight for middle class
October 10th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney defends Wall Street but vows to fight for middle class

Milford, New Hampshire (CNN) - Mitt Romney cast himself as a fighter for the middle class Monday at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire and mocked President Barack Obama for creating a "Where's Waldo economy."

But the former Massachusetts governor also defended Wall Street and said the financial sector is not entirely to blame for the nation's economic slump.

Romney, campaigning on the same day a poll showed him with a commanding lead over his Republican rivals in the key primary state, opened his remarks by flagging a New York Times story on how median household income has declined by nearly 10 percent since Dec. 2007.

"Those who are working are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet," Romney said. "This is the definition of a failed presidency."

Debuting a new line, he called the Obama economy "a Where's Waldo economy."

"Finding a good paying job in this economy is harder than finding Waldo in one of his books," he said.

Romney promised to be firmly on the side of the middle class, even those in labor unions, if elected president.

"I am not running for rich people," he said. "Rich people can take care of themselves. They are doing just fine. I am running for middle class Americans."

Romney, who made a fortune running a private equity firm before entering politics, was asked by one voter if Wall Street financial institutions were to blame for the financial collapse in 2008.

He said bankers made mistakes in the run-up to the economic crisis, but was careful not to blame them alone.

"Are there bad actors on Wall Street? Absolutely," he said. "Are there
bad actors on Main Street? Absolutely."

Romney faulted low-income individuals for taking on home loans they could not afford, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for making those mortgages available.

"I don't consider these bad people, or people on some kind of, you know, corrupt effort," Romney said. "I see them as people who made extraordinary errors."

He said the financial sector should be regulated to track "what's going on in the market and track derivatives."

But he also said banks help make the Americans economy "the most powerful in the world" and said President Obama should not make Wall Street a "scapegoat" when the government and individuals were also to blame.

Romney said Obama should "stop blaming" others for the sad state of the economy.

"Be a Truman Democrat, say the buck stops here and do not blame the American people," he said.

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Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire • Wall Street
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Busted

    This is why I am scared about a republican like Mitt becoming president: "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for making those mortgages available." The mortgages became available because of the subprime CDOs created by Wall Street banks, it had nothing to do w/the agencies. We really need someone who understands how are economy operates

    October 10, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Jeff Spangler

    Can we be forgiven if we take his "Working Class Hero" claim with a large grain of salt (as large as might be found on the shore of Salt Lake City, Utah)?

    October 10, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Ray E. ( Georgia):

    Please give us more details on how we screwed ourselves? The GOP dominated domestic politics from 1980 onwards, and there was a constant push to de-regulate businesses, get rid of the oversight, etc: what happened in 2008 was the result. Bad policy with lax oversight. Will you vote for a return of that: who am i kidding of course you will. you think the world caved in after 2008, and Obama is to blame for everything. By your own logic, you contributed to the problem, so please accept the blame, and don't " vote stupid" again.

    October 10, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. vet in texas

    Romney want to fundementaly change the country, he wants your daughters and wives to stay home, wear boots and long sleeved collared dresses, and churn butter all day!

    How does the GOP expect anyone to take them seriously when their front runner wears magic underwear and believes the garden of eden and all of life originated in..................Missouri (yes, Missouri)

    October 10, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    The Republican platform represents all Americans. When government is smaller and the economy is in better shape and American companies lead the world in their industries, all Americans benefit.

    But when unemployment is above 9% and debt is 100% of GDP and government costs more to run than it can collect from the messed up tax code, and the housing market is a disaster, who benefits? Nobody. At least no Americans. How are we doing now that Obama's strategies have played out?

    October 10, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Aduzi

    Watch out for the Spin Doctors. With out pitch forks the 99 per cent is not a mob. They are a protest at best. They are not promoting class war fare but rater looking for opportunity. W. Bush was the class war fare promoter, his statement “If you’re not for us you’re against us” was meant to divide Americans. If you believe the Republicans answer to this, the statement was “taken out of context”, then there is a bridge in Brooklyn you probably own. The “If you’re not for us you’re against us” message shot down through the rank and file of the Republican Party like a bullet. It was designed and interpreted as a signal to not share the prosperity of America with those who did not agree with Republican ideology. As a result many middle class Americans voted against themselves. They were played and now they have no one to blame but themselves and corporate America. Finally, they are waking up. Now watch out for Mr Cain and the Republican party to pull another Fast One with the 9 9 9 tax proposal.

    October 10, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  7. jane

    "Corporations are people, my friend"........"I am running for the middle class"......Mitt Americans are not as stupid as you think we are

    October 10, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. Mindie from India

    The failure in this Country comes from 30 years of tickle down economic policies – money to the rich hoping it trickles down to the poor which it never did and Mitten's father was a large supporter and proponent of that policy. We have inflated mortgages because of bank deregulation, we had two unpaid failed wars – all of these are policies the GOP owns and is now trying to blame Obama for. While Obama has his weaknesses, I would not want to live in an America where another GOP is at the helm. While a Democratic President is not the ideal, at least Obama will keep us from wolves like Mittens, Cain, Perry and their ilk. These people own the Baggers who did nothing to help struggling Americans becasue the kuku $$$ corrupted their message. The OCCUPY people have a genuine message and the conservatives simply cannot stand it that – it scares them and that's why their are demonizing and belittling this effort. We aren't going anywhere and will only OCCUPY more real estate in this nation!

    October 10, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Neo

    Corporations comes first then he will now see how these corporations can trickle down some of their wealth.

    October 10, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. sara

    Sorry Willard, "Corporations are people too"....and you sides with them again. The American people after 40 years suffering with low wages, stagnant wages cannot afford YOU!

    October 10, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Four and The Door:

    The economy is in lousy shape die to 3 decades of GOP policies that de-regulated industries, cut our revenues to pay for programs, and encouraged companies to leave this country. It will take longer than 2-3 years to correct the damage done by the myth of conservative economics, and you are counting on that. Our debt is huge because some bright boy in the GOP decided to embrace supply side even though they knew it would balloon the debt: combine that with eliminating rules designed to protect investors, and you ahve the meltdown. The GOP is responsible for this mess, and you want to take us further into that? The GOP has practiced class warfare for 2 generations, and played people off based on race, gender, gay vs, straight, anything to win. The GOP are the cynics, and they are afraid of optimistic, well-educated, free people who can make decisions without a preacher or a billionaire media mogul telling them what to think.

    October 10, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Suddenly Gov. Romney is a fighter for the middle class. It almost sounds like he read my post from earlier today that pointed out the Republicans have conducted entire debates this year without once mentioning the phrase "middle class."

    I do not trust this man to fight for anything but corporations. If he argues that corporations are people, how long will it take for him to argue that corporations deserve the right to vote? I can hear the Tea Party extremists now, "Taxation without Representation." It won't take long. Just as soon as Republicans grab control of Congress and the White House.

    October 10, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. Darth Vadik, CA

    he he he he...

    ....the good thing about Romeny is that you don't even have to give him a shovel for him to dig himself into a hole, he'll do it all on his own, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    October 10, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. DAK

    I will not vote for ANY republican in 2012 for the one simple fact that I do not believe in rewarding bad behavior. After almost 3 years of hearing nothing but name-calling, mud slinging and all other type of lies from the Right, I will NOT VOTE FOR ANY OF THEM!

    October 10, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. REG in AZ

    "Speaks with forked tongue", no creditability and obviously trying to play both sides. It seems Romney really offers nothing firm or promising, only deceptive rhetoric seeking to confuse and in confusing gain a form of acceptance. Is it "wall Street" or is it "middle class" he is for? I suspect it actually is only Romney that he is for!

    October 10, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. terry

    Here we go again with this guy who is he kidding about fight for the middle class. There is no way in hell that the GOP will agree with him on this. How can you be for the middle class when you want to give more tax cuts to the rich and bi oil. He is only saying this to get votes. This guy is a clown who is he fooling the Republican party on on record to cut medicaid,SS, cut jobs and send more overseas. Mitt should be ashamed of his self.

    October 10, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. vet in texas

    America please read ACTUAL facts on Fannie and Freddie, it's origin, purpose and rules before you believe ANYONE who points the finger at them......FYI, they REQUIRE PROOF OF INCOME.

    October 10, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. NES5000B

    @ Ray E (Georgia), you are living up to the portrait of ignorant southerners. Corporations sent thousands of IT, engineering, and customer service jobs to the mideast, India, and China among others which meant layoffs for the middle class in America. This all happened when the "trickle down" effect was supposed to be taking place (which has not nor will ever happen). The GOP continues propagandizing these lies and unfortunately there are too many gullible American's buying it without delving into what is really going on.

    October 10, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  19. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    If Mittens is such a "man of the people" then he shouldn't have any problem telling us what sacrifices he is calling on Big Business and the ultrarich to share along with the rest of us. We're waiting for your answer, Mittens, and all we hear are crickets.

    October 10, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Wall Street Crime Victim

    Dear Four and The Door:

    That bit you posted about smaller government benefiting all Americans was a nice steaming pile of deathcult manure. A "smaller government" that lacks things like food and drug regulations, environmental protections and a safety net for the poor and elderly hardly benefits "all Americans." It does, however, benefit the GOBP deathcult and their blllionaire backers. Nice to see which side you are on!

    OWS!

    October 10, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. IrishGeorg

    I have been in the mortgage business for 26 years. At the end of the 90's it was strongly suggested that banks would provide home ownership for every American. FNMA and Freddie Mac began to loosen up guidelines to meet the government requirements from early 2000 until the collapse in 2008. As a result, many homeowners began to utilize these risky loans along with the government pushing them and the banks began riding the wave. We all are to blame in my honest opinion. In 2008, all of those programs were eliminated and we are back to the way it was as far as loan programs. However, now the government has piled on All of this regulation, costing mortgage companies tons of money, when just eliminating the programs was sufficient. But, 'NOOO" our incompentent leaders want to portray to the American people how much regulation is going to help prevent that from happening again. Here is the irony in all of this. The government has created the NMLS, National Mortgage Licensing System, which is suppose to regulate all loan officers in the country. However, Florida and California has always had licensing for years and those were the two (2) worst states with foreclosures. You can continue to be lead (MISLEAD) by those that show a good face, but all they are wanting is for you to re elect them, because their best achievement or sevice to you is they know how to depost a pay check. The biggest mistake us Americans have made in the 1990's is to NOT Force our politicians to have "Term Limits." It was presented in the Contract with America, and I believe we need to have fresh bodies in Washington every 8 years to stop this unending "Emply Promises." Now our country is in such a mess, no one is competent enough to solve the issues. I guess, that is why the bible prophsized that the AntiChrist will come and fool the world that he will be the One person to solve the World Problems. Continue to be gullable or not be gullable, that is the question.

    October 10, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. CKPS

    I sure wish I could take Romney at his word. While I think it's a stretch to label Obama as a "failure" given all the unique challenges his admnistration has faced and the almost unprecedented and hysterical opposition and outcry that has met his every word and deed, that his sluggish and almost passive style of leadeship has created a real risk that one of these Republican nutcases might actually beat him in 2012. I certainly am not giving up, but it would be nice to know that - if Romey actually wins - he might at least be trusted to govern pragmatically (not idelogically) in the interests of all Amercian people. Sad to say, Romney has become such a sell-out to his new teaparty buddies that he really cannot be counted on to do even that.

    October 10, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. Klatu Berata Nicto

    Mitt Romney received $250,000 in campaign funds from Goldman Sachs. Nuff said. BOTH parties are to blame here, as the wall street/corporate influence on American politics is not divided amongst party lines.

    October 10, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. CKPS

    OOPS - a couple of typos. Here it is again -

    I sure wish I could take Romney at his word. While I think it's a stretch to label Obama as a "failure" given all the unique challenges his admnistration has faced and the almost unprecedented and hysterical opposition and outcry that has met his every word and deed, I feel his sluggish and almost passive style of leadeship has created a real risk that one of these Republican nutcases might actually beat him in 2012. I certainly am not giving up, but it would be nice to know that – if Romey actually wins – he might at least be trusted to govern pragmatically (not idelogically) in the interests of all Amercian people. Sad to say, Romney has become such a sell-out to his new teaparty buddies that he really cannot be counted on to do even that.

    October 10, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Mark

    How is Mitt going to 'fight for the middle class'? The same way Republicans have been fighting for them for 30 years? Tax cuts for the wealthy hoping it trickles down to the rest of us. Looking at the growing gap in wealth over that time it's been a complete failure. Time for a new strategy, but he doesn't have one.

    October 10, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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