Romney Addresses Republicans in Helena

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – In a speech over breakfast to Montana Republicans, former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a speech notable for whom he mentioned, and who he left out.

In a stump speech in which he urged Republicans to focus on boilerplate issues like national defense, strengthening the United States economy and family values, Romney mentioned or quoted Ronald Reagan four times, Dwight D. Eisenhower once, and George W. Bush zero times.

“It’s not that liberals are ignorant, it’s just that what they know is wrong,” Romney said, quoting Reagan and saying that Democrats believe America’s greatness lies in its form of government, while Republicans believe “the source of America’s strength is the American people.”

But even when telling a story at the end of his speech in which he described an athlete at the 2002 Olympics sitting in a booth with the president and vice president, he did not use their names.

In his speech as well as afterwards in remarks to reporters, Romney called for offering incentives to increase military enrollment by 100,000 and boosting funding for military equipment by an additional $30 billion to $40 billion.

On the economy, Romney said he favored doing away with the estate tax, which he referred to as the death tax, and cutting taxes on savings accounts. He also described the growing number of American children born out of wedlock and the need to encourage marriage before children.

Montana Republicans are gathered for the next day and a half to regroup in the wake of the 2007 Legislature, re-energize for next year’s elections, and elect Erik Iverson as state party chairman, who is running unopposed.

Romney opted out of offering any advice for how state Republicans can win in 2008.

“I’m not going to propose how to strengthen the Montana Republican party,” he said, as delegates dined on steak and eggs. “You have a better sense of how to get that done than I do.”

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