NASHUA, N.H. (AP) – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Tuesday praised President Barack Obama and the U.S. military operation that resulted in Osama bin Laden‘s death while telling state business owners that their successes help boost the economy and contribute more funding to the nation’s defense.
“It all flows from a strong economy,” he told 18 businessmen and one woman. “You are the foundations of the economy.”
CBS News Coverage: Osama bin Laden’s Death
The former Massachusetts governor said he didn’t know or care whether bin Laden’s death would help Obama in his re-election campaign. “The right thing is we got the bad guy,” he said.
“We’re all Americans. This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. This is an American thing.”
“We will all remember where we were when Osama bin Laden was finally killed,” Romney said. “I congratulate the president, the intelligence community and the military on this extraordinary accomplishment.”
During his discussion with the business owners, Romney said the total cost of federal regulations should be capped at the current level of $1.7 trillion a year.
“If you want to add a new regulation, you’d have to find one to take out,” he said.
Romney said he also supports pending legislation that would require Congress approve any regulation that would cost more than $100 million to implement, and he criticized the Obama administration for proposing 100 regulations so far that would meet that threshold.
“This bigger and bigger burden makes it hard for businesses to strive and grow,” he said.
In January, Obama ordered a wide-ranging review of federal regulations to weed out those that hurt job growth and creation while keeping those necessary to protect the environment, public health and safety. Agencies have until mid-May to submit their proposed plans, including lists of rules already changed or soon to be.
Several of the business owners Romney met with said they were not hurt directly by federal regulations but had clients and customers who were. Suzanne Delaney, who coaches people looking to start a franchise business, said many of the entrepreneurs she works with are terrified of regulations.
“People want to do something on their own. However, there’s a lot of fear out there,” she said.
Several of the business owners said they were struggling with rising fuel and health care costs and getting the capital they need to expand.
John Gallagher, an electrician from Merrimack, said banks have told him not even to bother filling out applications.
“I want to go out and bid on bigger jobs, but I don’t have the employees to do that,” he said.
When others described putting all their profits back into their businesses, Romney said the public too often assumes that profit is a bad thing.
“What it allows you to do is grow and expand,” he said. “People think profit goes to the owner to take back to sit by the
Bill Rogers, founder of the Nashua software company Ektron, said many of the company’s engineers are foreigners who came to the U.S. for college. When he complained about burdensome immigration regulations, Romney said it should be easier for skilled workers who attended college in the U.S. to stay in their jobs.
“Staple a green card to their diploma and have them stay,” he said.
After months of laying low while other possible candidates traveled to New Hampshire, Romney’s activity has picked up a bit recently, though it stands in contrast to his first presidential campaign four years ago. The business discussion was Romney’s only public event Tuesday; in April 2007, a typical day included up to six stops around the state.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)