FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.—Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was wooing voters from his home state at a luncheon organized by the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 16.
Born and raised in Detroit, the Massachusetts Governor opened his speech with a declaration of love for the state of Michigan and for cars. He is the youngest son of George W. Romney, the former chairman and president of American Motors, and much-liked governor of Michigan in the 1960s.
Current Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, endorsed Romney at the event and in an editorial in the Detroit News this week, urging voters to back him in the primaries on Feb. 28. But the endorsement and hometown advantage may not be swinging Romney’s way. Rick Santorum is ahead of Romney by four points, according to a Detroit News poll.
At the event, Romney talked about finding an easier way for Americans to build and grow their enterprises. He said he didn’t “want to have government take a larger and larger role in our lives and a bigger and bigger share of our economy.”
Addressing the trade imbalance with China, Romney said, as president, he would, “finally take China to the carpet and say, ‘Look you guys, I’m going to label you a currency manipulator and apply tariffs unless you stop those practices.'”
China has become the foreign policy hot topic in the race thus far and Romney’s comments came as the next president of the Chinese regime, Xi Jinping, was leaving California after visiting Washington and Iowa this week.
Carole Layne, a supporter at Friday’s event, said Romney did the right thing by writing the op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” printed in the New York Times in 2008.
“I think that by letting the car companies go bankrupt, then they would have been able to find another way, from the private sector funding, instead of government funding,” Layne said.
Outside the Farmington Hills Manor, a small group of demonstrators stood holding a banner with the words “Mitt Romney said: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
One of the demonstrators, Ihsan Allos, a car dealership owner and strong Obama supporter from Detroit, said he disagreed with letting Detroit go bankrupt. He said Romney was wrong on that issue. Allos said business has been good and Michigan’s economy is recovering.
With reporting by Ying Wan.