Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife Ann stand outside… (Steven Senne / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- Federal cutbacks and changes to the Department of Education were on the table during a fundraiser for Mitt Romney on Sunday, during which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee provided a more candid preview of what his presidency might be like.
Reporters from the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC, listening from a public sidewalk just outside of the Palm Beach, Fla., residence where the event took place, found Romney to be more specific and less guarded than he has been on the campaign trail.
"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them,” Romney said. "Some eliminate, but I'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go. Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I'm not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we've got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states."
Romney was reportedly pointed on his desire to change the Department of Education.
"I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," he said, citing the political risks inherent to advocating an end to the department as a whole. He also pointed to teacher unions as a prominent opponent during the campaign.
"The unions will put in hundreds of millions of dollars. There's nothing like it on our side," he said.
Romney said that since his failed 1994 Senate run in Massachusetts against incumbent Edward M. Kennedy, he’s learned his lesson about being too specific in naming programs to eliminate.
The reported changes, along with an elimination of second-home mortgage deductions for high-income earners, are seen as intended to help mitigate the costs of Romney’s proposed 20% cut in income taxes for all brackets.
Romney's campaign said that the remarks made Sunday were not the official debut of policy positions.
"Gov. Romney is discussing some of the ideas he has to tackle the big issues facing America. Gov. Romney has also laid out a bold set of policy proposals that will grow our economy, cut spending and get our massive debt under control," spokesperson Amanda Henneberg said, emphasizing that the proposals were just discussions.
In his reported comments, Romney displayed confidence in appealing to Latino voters.
"We're going to be able to get Hispanic voters. We're going to overcome the issue of immigration," he said.
At the forefront of that effort is a Republican variation on President Obama’s Dream Act, with the purpose of providing legal means for illegal immigrants who first entered the U.S. as minors to eventually gain citizenship.
Romney also reportedly expressed a need for his campaign to reach out beyond its typical constituencies and to try to pull in those outside of immediate Republican circles. Commenting on the media's coverage so far in the campaign, with harsh marks for television commentators and praise for Fox News, Romney said, "Fox is watched by the true believers. We need to get the independents and the women."
Ann Romney, who last week was in the spotlight after Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen alleged that the GOP candidate's wife "never worked a day in her life," indicated that she was well aware of the opportunity Rosen’s remarks presented.
"It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” she said, referencing her 63rd birthday today.
Original source: Romney mentions possible policy details in Florida fundraiser