Hilton Head, South Carolina (CNN) – Mitt Romney took the stage at a veterans event Friday in Hilton Head surrounded by a trio of high-profile supporters who defended the presidential candidate, as well as injected enthusiasm and a bit of unpredictability into the evening.
Sen. John McCain, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Ambassador John Bolton spoke with Romney before a packed audience in a small room at a Hilton Head hotel, where voters crammed into an overflow room and listened from a balcony.
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Before the event, traffic backed up onto the highway, at one point preventing Romney’s bus from entering the compound.
John Bolton, who endorsed Romney this week, made his debut on the campaign traveling circuit. The former United Nations ambassador harshly criticized President Obama for his foreign policy – going further than Romney has done – and said the president did not deserve any credit for what is considered a major coup of his presidency: the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“Navy SEAL Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden,” Bolton said.
He added of Obama: “He just doesn’t care about national security the way other presidents did. He’s much more interested in moving us toward a social Democratic health care system, a social Democratic automobile manufacturing system, a social Democratic environment, you get the picture.”
Haley and McCain acted as Romney’s defenders, separately launching into defenses of Romney’s career at private equity firm Bain Capital.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have accused Romney of callously shedding jobs in his career at Bain – a criticism Romney’s campaign has labeled an attack on free enterprise.
Haley exhorted the audience to “value the free market.”
“Let's not let ourselves get involved in a debate and join the Democrats when we start trashing the free market or trashing private enterprise,” she said.
McCain concurred, calling free enterprise “the greatest job creator there is.”
Though Romney has trumpeted his message of economic turnaround in the state where many are struggling, the first several audience questions dealt with other issues.
One woman in the audience asked Romney whether he believed in Jesus Christ.
Romney said he did, and then went on to explain that he respected people of different beliefs.
“I happen to believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and my savior. But I know other people have differing views and I respect those views and don’t believe those qualify or disqualify people for leadership in our nation,” he said. “I think over time, the great majority of us have decided that this is something that doesn’t determine who should be our president or our vice president or a governor or our senator,” but based upon character.
On Friday the Romney campaign released a radio ad in socially-conservative South Carolina titled “Shares Our Values” that touted Romney’s support among Christian conservatives for his views on “the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and the importance of family.”
Throughout the evening on Friday, McCain kept the audience in stitches with a running line of jokes – many of which some voters might remember from 2008.
Perhaps the most popular, at least among the veterans in the audience, was McCain’s knock on the Marine Corps.
“When I graduated from the Naval Academy I tried to get into the Marine Corps – but my parents were married,” McCain joked, to shocked laughter.
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Hilton Head, yes, that’s where Romney feels at home! Together with people that represent what was and is wrong with the US! “Value the free (unregulated) market.” Means taking away from you (99%) and giving to them (1%) so they can “trickle down” on you! In the process distorting the Presidents work…
President Obama 2012!
Blah Blah Blah.....Bolton is a stooge...He sounds like the adults in the Peanut's specials. Of course, if Romney was President and Bin Laden was killed under his watch, Bolton would be showering him with praise. Romney is surrounding himself with Bush rejects.....we've already been down that road and it is one many do not want to travel again.
Bolton is nuts and Nikki Haley will be Romney's running mate, at least she is smarter then Sarah Palin.
Mitt Romney is so phony I don't recall ever witnesisng a bigger flip flopper and out right disliked person running for public office in my life. If he wasn't so rich and well conected he would be in jail for the things he did to those poor people he stole from. SHAME ON MITT ROMNEY!
Boltan?? Is this the best you have Romney??
good luck with the independents.
Obama is a failed president who is over his head. Those that put him in office the first go around, will spend another BILLION dollars to keep pulling his puppet strings for another 4 years. ROMNEY 2012!
John Bolton ,
the former U.S. representative to the United Nations. You owe Hantz Blitz ,General Shinseki and the American people an apology. When you find those WMDs , then and only then will anything you indorse , support or promote mater !
Looks like the big endorsements are still rolling in for Romney. Maybe next he can get one from Donald Trump? Two people whose favorite phrase is– "You're fired."
More lies from the desperate GOBP. Wait until their McCain 2012 gets teabagged in SC. They will scatter like the Kochroaches they are.
The more time goes by, the more of a fool Bolton reveals himself to be.
His supporters need to do a thorough study of Bain Capital.
It's pretty funny to see all the neocons and party hacks playing their carefully scripted roles in Karl Rove's Plan to Elect the Next Neocon Robot.
biggest thieves, and job creation is bogus. 100,000 jobs lost in Bain....true...this India gal is stupid. Check her immigration.
I don't know what cnn considers lively, but those three as as lively as a hibernating bear and just as dangerous when it wakes up to the US.
The people of SC are not too thrilled with macain endorsing the $250M flip flopper either. He is too moderate and they know he also changed his stance on many issues (let's mention his unvetted cnoice of VP) to win the nomination in 2008.
Some selfish Republicans wants to wrap up the primary now. We have message to those Republicans “If first five states can decide the nominee don’t except us to vote for your nominee in November”
With friends like these...'you get the picture'.
Imagine a research paper publish by the lab technician. That would be hilarious. Also the Navy SEAL Team 6 deserve a great admiration for their bravery and selfless act the credit goes to the leadership which was the architect and author of this strategy. I wish the seals have had a leader for the last decade it wouldn't have cost us thousands of life and millions of browed money and resources. Thank God we have a true leader at the helm of this trying time. President Obama 2012.
By Botlon's reasoning, our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan are due to America's soldiers, not President George W. Bush (you know, the actual President who started those wars).
Bolton is saying no credit for Obama Bolton need some help
Romney is McCain '08 deja vu. A substantial number of Republicans simply do not trust him, recognizing Mitt is not a true conservative, and the more Romney flip-flops to pander farther to the right; the more inauthentic Romney becomes.
Then, Romney adds the same ol' Bush neo-Cons to his campaign (ex. Rove & here Bolton). Mitt also added McCain/Bush's uber lobbyist, Charlie Black. Remember how Black made the disgraceful comments hoping for a terrorist attack on our country just to help his campaign? Reprehensible and certainly not presidential.
America deserves better.
If Romney is elected POTUS, he will consider former Ambassador John Bolton for WHAT? If this man is comfortable with former Ambassador John Bolton in his administration, we can rest assured that we will be at war with China within 2 years of Romney taking office. I hope Republicans come to their senses before it is to late. They can still vote for Obama and no one will know it except me and them. I will know because I see and know all.
Tell me again how he calls himself an outsider? He was big business, still has his big business holdings, is supported by insiders from the Bush years and other politians. There only appears to be one thing is outside of and that's the loop of what America needs to grow.
The repos really deserve this clown. What a sorry state for the republican party when insincere little rich boy gets the nod. Mitt has no idea how to govern. He was never in town when he was governor. And gee the olympics.. Why doesnt he go back to one of his four houses and chill. Ask him about his bullet proof underware. That should show you how crazy the guy is.
so did McCain call Romney "President OBAMA" again? That was a Fruedian slip if I ever heard one. I sure hope if Mitt gets the nomination the DNC will start playing these 2008 tapes of what John McCain said about Mitt Romney. It was not flattery at all and the Repubs can continue to do the Dems work of vetting Mitt. By the way Nikki Haley's approval rating in SC is tanking! And I bet had Bush been in office when Bin Laden was killed Bolton would be singing a different tune giving W ALL the praise and credit. On the other hand if that mission had gone array then it would have been totally Obama's fault!
Just heard Romney is now realizing there are "poor" people in our state. Hope they had enough shovels to scrape up the floor following some of the comments he made. If anyone there believed what he said, they could probably buy a few bridges, seaside property in AZ, and a few ski resorts in S.FL at a real steal.