by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife Ann said the former Massachusetts governor would not participate in any more debates in the GOP primary.
Introducing Romney before his speech to the conservative group Americans For Prosperity’s forum in Troy, Mich., Ann Romney said that she decided that her husband should stop debating the other Republican candidates.
“I’ve also decided no more debates,” Ann Romney said to laugher in her introduction of her husband. “If we do another debate, he’s going to sit in the audience and watch me.”
The Republican field has battled itself in more than 20 debates and forums since the early months of 2011. As the wide array of candidates has steadily been narrowed the attacks have grown more intense and personal.
Ann Romney joked Saturday that she should “do all the talking” for her husband, who has been criticized for his gaffes on the campaign trail. In a speech in Detroit on Friday, the candidate tried to show his support for the American auto industry by naming the American cars his family owned. But when he said his wife “drives a couple of Cadillacs,” critics said he sounded out of touch with less wealthy people.
“Maybe I should do all the talking and let him just stand here and watch me,” Ann Romney said Saturday.
The former governor did not take up his wife’s offer, using his speech to the AFP to criticize both President Obama and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, with who he is locked in a tight race, according to the latest polls.
Romney, whose father was the governor of Michigan in the 1960s, also touted his Michigan roots, noting that he and Ann were both raised in the state. A loss in what is widely viewed as one of Romney’s home states could deal a serious blow to his hopes for winning the GOP nomination.
“It’s good to be in Michigan,” Romney said of his ties to the state, which holds its primary on Feb. 28. “A lot of stories here. Deep roots here.”
Moving on to the attack against the president, he said that Obama was “out of ideas.”
“He’s out of excuses,” Romney said. “In 2012 he’s going to be out of office.”
Romney also targeted Santorum, quoting the former senator’s endorsement of his during his bid for the GOP nomination in 2008.
“I can attest for my conservative credentials from someone who endorsed me in my 2008 campaign,” Romney said. “Sen. Santorum was kind enough to say on the Laura Ingram show, he said ‘Mitt Romney. This is a guy who is really conservative, and who we can trust.'”
Romney continued, “He’s right, I’m the conservative candidate and what we need in the White House is principled conservative leadership, and I’ll bring it.”
Santorum said Friday he regretted endorsing Romney for president in 2008.
“As far as my endorsement, you know what?,” Santorum said. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
In his own speech to the AFP forum Saturday, Santorum argued Romney was too moderate to be the GOP nominee.
“Every time we’ve run a moderate, we’ve lost,” Santorum said. “Every time we’ve run a conservative, a complete conservative … we’ve won.
“Why would we nominate someone who is uniquely unqualified to take on the big issue of today,” he continued.