Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, widely viewed as a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, likened Republicans to the revolutionaries of 1776 in a political call to arms issued to Senators and high-dollar Republican donors at Wednesdays National Republican Senatorial Committee spring fundraising dinner.
In his keynote address to GOP Senators and some 400 donors at the Newseum just off Capitol Hill, Romney said Democratic leaders in Washington are using the nations financial crisis to advance their philosophy of the supremacy of the government. He pointed to the card check bill as a key example of Democrats desire to put power in the hands of the government rather than in the hands of the individual.
We recognize that it is the power of the individual that has made America what it is, Romney said of the Republican party, noting that the nation is at a key moment in history.
Romney, a frequent presence on the Republican fundraising circuit in recent months, has remained coy about his 2012 plans. But its no secret that hes working hard to maintain the close ties that earned him more endorsements by GOP lawmakers than any other candidate by the time he dropped out of the 2008 presidential primary race.
In January, Romney was a keynote speaker at the GOP retreat at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., and Wednesdays event was expected to bring in some $2 million for the NRSC.
While his purpose was clearly to rally the Republican base in the wake of another down election cycle for the party, Romney did take time to praise a few of President Barack Obamas early policy moves.
He said he was glad Obama is taking a more aggressive stance against jihadists in Pakistan and that its a good thing Obama is now speaking tough to the auto industry. He also said he agreed with the presidents decision to protect Americas financial system.
Still, Romneys message was clear Wednesday night.
They are the party of government, he said of the Democrats. We are the party of the people. ... We are the party that will keep America the land of opportunity.
NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said after the speech that Republicans were in need of Romneys call to arms.
I really feel sort of a shift in attitude, Cornyn said. One from pessimism to one of hope for 2010.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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