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Romney uses healthcare ruling to rev up crowd in New York

June 29, 2012|By Alana Semuels
(EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS )

Appearing in a swanky New York ballroom a day after the Supreme Court upheld the heart of the president’s healthcare law, Mitt Romney called on the country to vote President Obama out of office and his surrogates asked for money to help him do that.

“What happened yesterday calls for greater urgency, I believe, in the election,” Romney said, to a crowd of donors in a ballroom at New York restaurant Cipriani, which is across from New York City’s Grand Central Station. “I think people recognize that if you want to replace Obamacare, you’ve got to replace President Obama. And the urgency of doing that is something which is galvanizing people across the county.”

Romney said that the healthcare bill would cost the country $500 billion and warned the crowd that they would “now have a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.”

The fundraising event, which cost $2,500 a person and 10 times that for a photo with the presumptive GOP nominee, came as the Romney campaign announced that it had raised $4.6 million since the Supreme Court decision was announced. The campaign seems to be hoping that the decision will help rake in even more dollars. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who introduced Romney to the well-heeled crowd, went so far as to joke that Justice John Roberts “did this intentionally, because he really revved up our base.”

Johnson also revealed something else to the crowd: that Romney is cheap. That was meant to assure donors that their money was being well-spent.

“I want to assure you that Mitt does not spend money frivolously,” he said, after Romney had finished speaking. “Maybe some people have said he’s cheap, which is good. We’re spending money as intelligently as you can possibly do it. So every one of the dollars that you raise and you give, Mitt treats as a precious commodity for him.”

The rest of Romney’s speech focused on the economy and business creation. The crowd of businessmen and women seemed particularly receptive to Romney’s focus on getting rid of regulations that he claims stunt economic growth. It’s a message that could help raise a lot of money from Wall Street, a group that once supported Democrats. But some on Wall Street say they’re not giving to Obama this time around because they’re disappointed with the president’s handling of the economy, a point Romney was key to pick up on.

“The urgency is also, I think, underlined by the fact that the economy is not doing what the president had expected,” he said. “We’re now in the third recovery summer and the economy continues to bump along the bottom. The American people are suffering.”

Much of the remainder of Romney’s speech, which lasted about 20 minutes, focused on how to stimulate the economy. He repeated calls for increasing energy production, getting rid of regulations, rethinking tax policies and opening up trade with Latin America. He also referred to Obama’s healthcare plan as another way the government will hamstring economic recovery.

“Over centuries, people try this idea of a government guiding the economy, and every time, free enterprise wins,” he said. “Free enterprise is the only economic system that has ever created a middle class that’s permanent and  prosperous. Free enterprise is the only moral solution to the challenges that we face and I believe that this is the time for us to stand up and fight for that which has made us who we are.”

Romney spoke to a room of people sitting at round tables covered with white tablecloths. Waiters in white tuxedo jackets and black bow ties brought them fruit and yogurt parfaits. The crowd was quick to applaud, including when Romney mentioned Marco Rubio, who has been mentioned as a potential pick for vice president.

alana.semuels@latimes.com

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