Romney's austerity message raises some voters' concerns
December 22nd, 2011
09:48 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney's austerity message raises some voters' concerns

Conway, New Hampshire (CNN) - Mitt Romney stuck to his austerity message at a town hall Thursday, even as he was closely questioned by several voters concerned about a drawdown in government benefits.

In Conway, the GOP candidate repeated his stance on cutting government spending and influence, after a man told Romney about benefits he received as a retiree.

The man told Romney he and his wife had worked extra jobs to send two daughters through college, but now he receives only two-thirds of his Social Security benefits because he is married and draws a pension as a former firefighter.

Romney said the arrangement sounded fair, and pointed out the man had known about the benefits arrangement when he began paying into the pension program.

"I know there are some people who run for president that will say, 'Hey, I'm going to give you more. I'll find a way to give you some more. I'll change the rules and give you more money,'" Romney said. "I'm not that guy. If there's a competition for who will give you the most free stuff, go vote for that guy."

The man said he had been paying into Social Security for 40 years.

"I'm not asking for anything free, I'm asking for what I paid into," he said.

Romney did acknowledge to the man that he, himself, was wealthy, and agreed that citizens making a certain amount should not receive benefits from the entitlement program.

In addition, under tough questioning by a college student, Romney said colleges would eventually be forced to lower tuition rates to compete for applicants.

Two voters at the town hall asked Romney about the rising cost of higher education. The GOP candidate agreed tuition rates were troublesome but seemed to imply the problem would work itself out in the free market system.

"Of course there will always be the Dartmouths and Dukes and so forth that will charge a very high price and will get a number of terrific students," he said, referring to two major U.S. schools. But some state schools will decide "we're going to compete by giving people an education at a more reasonable price," Romney said.

Kallie Durkit, a junior at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, protested that potential employers were still seeking graduates from top-dollar schools.

Romney did not directly address her question, but pointed to his successful experience as a graduate of Brigham Young University - a school he called "not world-renowned." He told Durkit he believed in competition and said colleges were "going to have to find ways to provide education at prices people can afford."

"What I can promise you is this," he said. "When you get out of college if I'm president, you'll have a job. If President Obama's reelected, you will not be able to get a job."

After the event Durkit said she had hoped for more specifics. She said her experience looking for internships as a student at a state college had been frustrating.

"A person from a state college knows that they're up against these big-name private institutions, and we know that we're going to get looked over instead of someone who's gone to a Harvard, a Yale. We know that we're not nearly as competitive," she said. "So when he talks about hard work - I could be putting in just as hard work but the name still means something in corporate America."

Durkit said she would likely support President Obama in part because of the help she said he had provided for young people. In particular, she pointed to Obama's health care program, which allows young adults to remain on their parents' insurance until age 26.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Why would I trust a guy who's five sons avoided military service in war time ?

    Mitt Romney stuck to his austerity message at a town hall Thursday !

    December 22, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. Publius Novus

    Romney has all the answers. Do nothing and let the markets take care of it. That is not leadership.

    December 22, 2011 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  3. Stephen in VA

    So–yeah. Leave college students to fend for themselves, and we're all certain that tuition will go down. We are, right?

    December 22, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  4. Sandy

    Same old failed republican policies!
    Obama 2012!

    December 22, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. Jariv

    Romney 2012! He is being truthful.

    December 22, 2011 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    America can now officially be called a socialist country.........the people want that.

    December 22, 2011 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  7. Consequence

    Austerity is serious stuff and no politician promotes it without serious reflection – afterall, it is easy for a President to be Santa Claus, to hand out benefits and dangle dollars – especially if they are borrowed dollars, because gifts make voters happy and voters can usually be counted upon to vote for those who make them the happiest. and, if it is borrowed money, the debt will just get buried and not have to be reconciled until many years after the President has come and gone. and he debt mounts and mounts. it takes a brave soul to slow things down, target things we think we can do without and make for a sounder economy. today, we need a brave soul, not another panderer with big ideas of how to spend even more money to keep everybody happy.

    December 22, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  8. Fred D.

    Romney's right. You have to EARN it. Get better grades and you can go to a better school. America is the land of oportunity. Take it instead of waiting for a handout!

    December 22, 2011 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  9. Nathan

    Austerity? Sounds like common sense. I don't plan to vote for Romney, but I could be swayed if he continues his plain sense approach.

    December 22, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  10. stevetall

    So, Mitt's gonna give people jobs, but not help them get a good college education? Right. How many housekeepers is he going to need?

    A classic rich drip. He just does not understand what normal people have to go through, and he never will.

    December 23, 2011 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  11. m

    Romney lacks any sense of being poor or middle-class mean. He was raised in a very affluent family. The choices available to him are not what the average young American's choices will be.

    December 23, 2011 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  12. it is sad

    Mitt.. what you advocate with a smile is class warfare. If you are rich you go to good college... if you are poor you sit around and hope they will drop their prices. We all know that him and the other republican candidates only believe the wealthy should get the best education. He is so out of touch with 80% of americans... but there are still unlearned people who believe he will save them.

    December 23, 2011 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  13. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Can't fool these smart young people with wingnut lies. Obama 2012!

    December 23, 2011 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  14. FedUp

    They don't have to cut government benefits to the little people. They need to stop all subsidies for air fares, private planes, trips, food, houses, parties, and staff for the lawmakers. These people are rich enough to pay for their own. That includes the Obamas. The budget will be balanced. Need more? Cut foreign aid to the countries that don't back us.

    December 23, 2011 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  15. The Real Tom Paine

    "Romney did not directly address her question, but pointed to his successful experience as a graduate of Brigham Young University – a school he called "not world-renowned." " What he neglected to mention is that he took full advantage of his pedigree and his father's connections to get into Ivy-league schools at the graduate level and to get himself started in the business world. His connections are not the type the rest of us are born into and are able to exploit, so his answers are condescending, again. Nice to see the Mormon aristocrat ignoring his own past while pandering for votes.

    December 23, 2011 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  16. anagram_kid

    Romney stated – "What I can promise you is this," he said. "When you get out of college if I'm president, you'll have a job. If President Obama's reelected, you will not be able to get a job."
    This is completely absurd! It is similar to a seventh grader promising no homework to win student council president.

    December 23, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    America can now officially be called a socialist country.........the people want that.
    -------------------------
    This is a Democracy. If the people want to vote a peanut farmer, or a former B-movie actor President, then they can do do because they have the freedom to do so. Just as you are free to call our democracy a socialist country, I am free to call your vision of government a totalitarian plutocracy.

    Have a safe and happy holiday.

    December 23, 2011 09:01 am at 9:01 am |