The Corner

Romney: In November, ‘Economic Freedom Will be on the Ballot’

Schaumburg, Illinois — Mitt Romney delivered.

Speaking after his Illinois primary victory, Romney trotted out new line after new line, aggressively making the case for free markets and reduced regulation.

“After the years of too many apologies and not enough jobs,” Romney told the hundreds gathered in a hotel ballroom (although there remained room for more), “historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, of a President who doesn’t hesitate to use all means necessary to force Obamacare on the American public but leads from behind in world affairs, it’s time to say, ‘Enough!’”

Talking about Obama’s praise of figures like Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and Steve Jobs, Romney said, “under this President, those pioneers would have faced an uphill battle to innovate, invent, and create. Under Dodd-Frank, they would have struggled to get a loan from their community bank. A regulator would have shut down the Wright Brothers for their ‘dust pollution.’”

At another point, he derided what current politics had done to the economy: “We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.”

Romney also stressed the difference between his background and Obama’s.

“For 25 years, I lived and breathed jobs, business, and the economy,” he said. “I had successes and failures but each step of the way, I learned a little more about what it is that makes our American system so powerful.”

“You can’t learn that teaching Constitutional law,” he added. “You can’t learn that as a community organizer.”

One of Rick Santorum’s frequent criticisms of Romney is that he lacks a vision, that he cannot articulate a positive case. Tonight, he seemed to be trying to establish that he does have a vision of what America can be.

“Every great innovation, every world-changing business breakthrough, begins with a dream,” Romney said. “And nothing is more fragile than a dream. The genius of America is that we nurture these dreams and the dreamers. We honor them, and, yes, we reward them.

“That’s part of what is uniquely brilliant about America,” he continued. “But day by day, job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat, this president is crushing the dream and the dreamers.”

Romney also looked forward to the general election.

“This November, we face a defining decision,” he said. “Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.”

By and large, Romney’s stump speech has been the same throughout these state contests, little changing but which lines of “America the Beautiful” he quotes as he goes from state to state. But this speech shows he — and his team — were capable of producing better rhetoric. Tonight voters saw a Romney who has, thanks to the long primary, improved as a candidate.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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