PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Wrapping up a three-day tour of Florida, Mitt Romney promised voters Sunday that he would do everything in his power “to make us more united as a people” and would seek out Democrats as legislative partners.
Clearly trying to appeal to moderate voters in this coastal community north of West Palm Beach, Romney spoke expansively about education — praising former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush for setting an example for the nation, while also highlighting his plans to scale back spending and lower taxes on the middle class.
Standing before a giant banner that said “Protect & Strengthen Medicare,” Romney also tried to blunt President Obama’s attacks on his proposal to transform Medicare for those who are now 55 or younger. He did so by seeking to shift the discussion to a $716-billion cut to Medicare that is intended to help pay for the president’s new healthcare law. (The cut is to future payments to insurance companies and hospitals, not to recipients; Romney has nonetheless suggested otherwise.)
After telling a series of personal stories that he said illustrate American values and courage — a new passage of his speech that he began folding into his remarks Friday night — he said he would try to find like-minded Democrats in Washington to work with him on issues like education, Medicare and taxes.
“I will do everything in my power to draw on that greatness of the American people — to make us more united as a people; to have us pull together; to reach across the aisle and find good Democrats in the House and the Senate that care deeply about America, just as I do, ” the Romney told the crowd of thousands, who fanned out on the muddy grass of what appeared to be an outdoor mall. “I know they’re there. I know they’ll work together if they have leadership that will actually work and share credit and find ways to solve our great challenges.”
“I’m looking forward to the chance to be in Washington as a leader to get America on track again,” he continued. “I commit to you - I will keep this nation strong.”
The move toward espousing bipartisanship comes after a campaign in which Romney, to gain the nomination and keep conservatives strongly in his camp, has been harshly critical of Democrats in general and Obama specifically. He has often argued that Obama does not understand America or its values.
The former Massachusetts governor also offered a preview of a foreign policy speech that he plans to deliver Monday at the Virginia Military Institute.
Romney argued that America has lost influence around the world during President Obama’s tenure. He recalled his meeting in Poland with Lech Walesa, who told him that “American needs to lead.”
“I will do what it takes to restore a strong and vibrant economy that can care for our families and can care for military second to none,” he said. “I will keep our military so strong no one would ever think of testing it. This is our time.”
Drawing huge crowds for his campaign -- though nothing close to the 30,000 that Obama drew in Madison, Wis., last week -- Romney was clearly still getting mileage out of his performance at last week’s first debate with the president.
In her introduction, Romney’s wife, Ann,said Americans during that debate finally got “to see my husband as I see him.”
“A good and decent person,” she said, “that throughout his life has exhibited his care for others. And now we’re going to get a chance for him to really care for others because we’re going to have the chance to see him get people back to work again.”