(MIAMI) — Mitt Romney called the Republican Party the “natural home” for Hispanic voters, saying, in his first campaign rally in nearly five days, that America is a place that helps those struggling get back on their feet but won’t make government dependency a “permanent lifestyle.”
“This party is the natural home for Hispanic Americans,” Romney said to cheers at a “Juntos con Romney” rally. It was Romney’s first campaign event since leaked videos emerged of him speaking at a private fundraiser in May where he appeared to criticize 47 percent of Americans for considering themselves “victims” who feel “entitled” to government assistance.
Speaking through various interruptions — one protestor got no further than screaming “The 47 percent!” a reference to those leaked videos — Romney tried to paint a picture of a presidency that would do the best job of pulling Hispanics out of poverty.
To do that, Romney used the story of his own Mexican-born father as an example of someone who received government assistance but then made it on his own.
“I mentioned my dad, my dad was born in Mexico of American parents living there. At age 5 or 6 there was revolution,” Romney said. “They came back to the United States, and my dad had to get help, financial help, the government helped his family be able to get on their feet again. By the way, that’s the way America works, we have great hearts, we care for people who have needs. We help get them back. We help lift them up but then they go back to their permanent lifestyle.”
“We get them on their feet, and they build a brighter future,” he said.
To further what he said was a “stark” choice between himself and the president, Romney continued to draw on old comments made by then-Sen. Barack Obama in which he spoke in favor of “redistribution.”
“We have a president who’s been putting in place a political and economic program that a lot of us don’t recognize,” said Romney. “We haven’t seen anything like this in America before. He said, he said some years ago something which we’re hearing about today on the Internet. He said he believes in redistribution, all right? There are people who believe that you can create a stronger economy and a brighter future if you take from some people and give to other people.”
“Now listen,” he continued, “other places that have tried that haven’t done so well. That is not a philosophy that’s ever been tried here. We’re not going to have it here. We’re going to get America back to having free people pursuing their dreams in a free country.”
Just days after acknowledging his own comments at the fundraiser could have been stated more “elegantly,” Romney gave a nod to Obama’s eloquent speaking voice, but said it won’t help him win another term.
“He’s eloquent, he can describe his vision for the future,” said Romney. “But we have his record and his record speaks louder than his voice will ever speak.”
This was Romney’s first campaign event since last Friday, when he held a rally in the battleground state of Ohio. He had scheduled an event in Colorado for over the weekend but it was canceled after an experimental airplane crashed at the airport where the event was slated to be held. While Romney appeared at the Univision forum earlier Wednesday and gave a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce earlier this week, this was the first event organized by his campaign.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Eric Bradner, CNN
Dan Merica and Sophie Tatum, CNN