No-sweat Romney turns up the heat in Wisconsin
With Obama away at the G20 summit, his Republican rival has gone on the offensive, visiting several towns on a bus tour and claiming he will win Wisconsin, writes LARA MARLOWEin Janesville, Wisconsin
MITT ROMNEY laid claim to Wisconsin yesterday, 13 days after Republican governor Scott Walker triumphed over the Democrats and labour activists who tried to recall him for ending the right of public-sector unions to negotiate their contracts.
US president Barack Obama took Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in 2008. The midwestern state has voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections, and was not even considered a swing state until Walker’s victory.
“President Obama had just put Wisconsin in his column,” the Republican candidate told hundreds of supporters at a rally in the Monterey Mills textile factory. “But you know what? We’re going to win Wisconsin. We are going to get to the White House.”
Obama has endured a series of setbacks in recent weeks, and had to attend the G20 summit in Mexico, so it was a good time for Romney to go on the offensive, visiting small towns in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan – all states that Obama won in 2008 – on an old-fashioned bus tour that will end tonight.
Janesville, population 60,000, provided the perfect backdrop for Romney’s theme that Obama has thwarted economic recovery. The General Motors lorry factory shut down in 2009 and moved to Mexico, taking 4,700 jobs. Residents say crime and drug abuse have exploded.
Janesville’s favourite son, congressman Paul Ryan, author of the controversial Ryan plan which would lower taxes by shredding the US’s social safety net, accompanied Romney.
Ryan’s family emigrated to Wisconsin during the Famine, and own large tracts of farmland around Janesville.
June 5th – the day Walker rebuffed the attempted recall – was the precursor to November 6th, the presidential election, Ryan said. “We, along with a handful of other states, will determine the future of this country . . . We want a safety net that gets people back on their feet; not a hammock that lulls them into complacency.”
Romney is vetting potential running mates on the bus tour. Ryan and Walker have been mentioned as possible choices, and Walker, too, spoke at yesterday’s rally. He is Wisconsin’s 45th governor, Walker noted. Romney will be the US’s 45th president, he predicted.
Walker shared Ryan’s obsession with ending what they see as the freeloading fostered by Democrats. “We need a leader who understands that success is not determined by how many people depend on government,” Walker said.
Women fanned themselves with campaign pamphlets inside the sweltering factory. Ryan wiped his face with a handkerchief. Perspiration stained the shirts of his Republican cohorts, but Romney, immaculate in his jeans and white shirt, didn’t sweat. He noticed water dripping from the ceiling and drew hearty laughter from the crowd – a rare feat for Romney – when he said: “It’s so hot in here the building is sweating.”