Exeter, New Hampshire (CNN) - In a speech notable for both its specificity and the warm audience response, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pledged Thursday to cut federal spending and improve government productivity.
Speaking to an effusive audience of several hundred in New Hampshire, Romney said if elected he would bring a businessman's philosophy to Washington. He promised to cut $500 billion in federal spending during his first term in office, and said he would cut funding to Amtrak, some foreign aid programs and President Obama's health care plan.
He also said he would send funds for programs including Medicaid back to states to distribute as they see fit, and work to reduce redundancies in federal assistance programs such food stamps and Medicaid.
Romney told the audience he would be forced to make cuts he didn't want to make, but that the nation's long-term fiscal health depended on making difficult decisions.
"There are other programs I like, and I don't want to cut them," he said, adding that Republican leaders needed to be willing to make those tough choices. "It is a moral responsibility to believe in fiscal responsibility. We do and I do."
He said also he would reduce federal employment by 10% through attrition.
Romney also leveled a veiled attack against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who suggested in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader last week that he would wait to focus on reducing the deficit until the economy was back on its feet.
"I'm less worried about whether or not we've got budget holes to fill in the early years than I am getting the confidence of the job creators that they can actually go out and risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on their investment and create jobs," Perry told the Union Leader.
To audience applause in Exeter Thursday, Romney said reducing the deficit would be an early priority for him.
"Deficits do matter. They matter a lot," he said. "We're a party who recognizes you don't spend what you don't have."
His speech was peppered with anecdotes from his time spent in the private sector. During his tenure at the helm of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, Romney said, he scaled back fancy luncheons for members of the company's board. Instead, he said he served pizza and soft drinks, and charged $1 for members to partake.
After his speech Romney was surrounded by supporters who eagerly pressed in on him as he worked his way towards the exit.
Romney will follow his New Hampshire event with a policy speech on spending Friday in Washington.
–Follow Rachel Sreitfeld on Twitter: @StreitfeldCNN
well, its a intelligent plan, not the best but one at least that is somewhat realistically based on somewhat successful corporate strategy. hey its better than perrys plan and the 999 thats for sure. not sure about mittens tho. I feel hes trying to be a business leader than a president when he speaks. oh well unless some other republican goes up in the polls hes got my vote =/
Mittens is really in over his head. I thought that Obama offered the republicans $4 trillion in cuts, and the republicans walked away.
"He also said he would send funds for programs including Medicaid back to states to distribute as they see fit, and work to reduce redundancies in federal assistance programs such food stamps and Medicaid."
"He said also he would reduce federal employment by 10% through attrition."
This is not specific. Exactly what 10% of government would you cut? And wouldn't this just put more people out of work, increasing unemployment?
And why would you send medicare to the states for them to distribute anyway they want? There needs to be federal standards for that. You don't want these republican governors doing whatever they want with medicare.
Too funny. Romney is running his mouth when he should sit back and watch the other GOP candidates implode. Instead, he's making nonsensical speeches shooting himself in the foot with his stupid policies.
I don't see too many choosing Romney's policies over Obama's. Doesn't matter who the republican candidate is, they all have the same destructive policies.
Would Romney raise taxes and close corporate loopholes? I think not, just more of the same, cutting programs designed to aid and assist the already crumbling middle class.This guy is clueless when it comes to understand the average american. And his for his disparate and blind supporters, I throw up my hands and hang my head.
"We're a party who recognizes you don't spend what you don't have."
Really? When did this happen? The only time the GOP ever has this motto is when they're trying to unseat a Democrat. After that, it's back to business as usual. It doesn't matter anyway. Romney will flip-flop on this a dozen times before Obama cleans his clock next November.
thats what you say now i wonder what it will be next week
Mr. Romney, you will never make it to the White house because your own party does not like you.
Pandering to the teabaggers. Eliminate Amtrak, NPR, PBS, blah, blah, blah.
Uhm, Cheney's in your party, right? Reagan, too? And, let's not forget Bush II! Yeah, you guys have a long history of fiscal responsibility. End sarcasm.
Sounds like a plan. Obama...shut up.
Cut funding to Amtrak? That would kill jobs.
All of Romney's proposals would kill far more jobs than he could ever claim the cuts would create. Republican cuts at the state and national level have killed roughly 3/4 of a million jobs in the first thre quarters of 2011. We're on pace to lose over million public sector jobs this year. Next year's proposed cuts promise to kill at least two million more public sector jobs, possibly as many as three. We need to add revenue in the mix.
"He promised to cut $500 billion in federal spending during his first term in office, and said he would cut funding to Amtrak, some foreign aid programs and President Obama's health care plan."
I see Mr. Corporations Are People Too decided to chop his Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! platform. Probably just as well for him since he's now decided to go all out in courting the Koch Brothers Grand Old Tea folks, anyway. Romney never has been able to define how he planned on creating jobs for the millions of unemployed Americans affected by his all too familiar friendship with the job cutting/job outsourcing Corporate elite. Well, until he is forced to campaign for the Moderate/Independent vote that is. Then it'll be back to Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! and his old stand-by of "I never said I said what I said ... because what I really said was blah, blah, blah".
Is this line the most laughable quote ever from any politician not just republican, this is totally a false statement. When ol' GW Bush was in office not one person from the "party that recognizes" tell oh Mr. President we can't go to war right we have no funds, oh we can't give the rich a tax break right now we're broke. No what did they use the good ol' American credit card and charged to the next guy in line Obama. Now here we are in 2011 and the repubs didn't allow a bill on yesterday to pass for millions of construction jobs to for infrastructure (i.e. road and railroads) paid for by surcharge tax on those making 1mil annually. But no the "party that recognizes" feel that the tax would burden small business owners, really my mother and mother-in-law have both owned businesses and I know for a fact that they haven't been close to bring 1mil home in one year, therefore it sounds like McConnell, Boehner, & others are more interested in their own pockets and pockets of their closes friends Big Oil, Big Defense, Big Finance, and last but not least Mr.Norquist "a random person". As Americans we really deserve alot more out of these rethugs he don't read polls, because over 50% of American are really ok with hike tax on rich really look it up.