Hillsborough, Calif. — Mitt Romney was endorsed by former secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and George Shultz at a fund-raiser here Wednesday night, with both arguing that Romney is best suited to right the nation’s economy and standing in the world.
Shultz noted that he had served Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan, and knew both Bushes well, and said he recognized leadership and saw it in Romney.
“Look at these people, and you see they have good minds, not just intellects, but some sort of creative ability to grasp the depth of what’s going on and that’s really important and this man has that kind of mind,” Shultz told 300 people at a hilltop castle in this Bay Area suburb. “Then you find that all these people have the ability to identify long-term issues that you have to pay attention to.”
Rice noted that she had been outside Washington for three years.
“I want you to know too my life has changed a lot and I get up in the morning and I read the newspaper and I go right onto what I want to do because I am no longer responsible for what’s in it,” Rice said to laughter. “But we are here today because even though we’re not responsible any longer for what’s in it, we care about the future of this country and we care about the future of our world.”
The pair made their endorsements at a fund-raiser in a large white tent on the lawn of Chateau Carolands, one of the largest private homes in the nation and a frequent site of GOP fund-raisers. The 65,000-square-foot mansion has 95 rooms, sits on nearly six acres and its gardens are modeled after those at Versailles.
About 300 people donated $2,500 to $50,000 to attend the event. The campaign declined to say how much was raised.
Both secretaries lauded Romney’s education speech last week in which he assailed President Obama’s policies and blamed teachers’ unions for preventing needed reform.
Shultz called it “Reagan-esque.”
“I think that may be the most important speech anybody has made in this campaign. What it shows is his ability to stand back and say what is really important for the United States and its future,” he said. “The gloves are off. The reality is right there and also the vision for what to do is right there.”
Rumors had swirled that Meg Whitman, the unsuccessful 2010 GOP gubernatorial nominee and the chief of Hewlett-Packard, would attend the event, but she did not. Romney was a mentor to Whitman, and she is a national finance co-chair for his campaign. But HP recently announced plans to lay off 27,000 people, so an appearance by Whitman would highlight Democrats’ criticism of Romney’s work at a private equity firm where they argue he let workers go at various companies to maximize profits.
Romney alluded to the criticism Wednesday night.
“The president’s spokesman, he said: ‘Mitt Romney doesn’t understand what we do here. The reason he was in business was to make a profit. He wasn’t trying to create jobs.’ It’s like, yeah, that’s kind of the idea behind free enterprise – there’s a profit motive to encourage people to invest themselves and start businesses, the byproduct of which is putting people to work,” Romney said.
He contrasted that with the government’s involvement in Solyndra, a solar power firm that went bankrupt after receiving $535 billion in federal loan guarantees.
“Then there’s the president’s policy to become a venture capitalist. That’s a tough job; we’ve got a few venture capitalists in the audience here. He decided he can do it better than you guys can. And I tried that myself; you guys did pretty well actually. So he invests in something like Solyndra and puts in a half billion dollars in a business like that,” Romney said. “And I look and think gosh, when we started Staples the office superstore I think collectively we put in a few million and then when we had a little success, we put in little more. Our office by the way was in the back of an old shopping mall.”
“That was real people’s money, it was the taxpayers’ money. Have you seen the Solyndra corporation headquarters? You probably have. That’s what happens when government puts in hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise,” Romney said. “And by the way, the president doesn’t understand when you invest like that in one solar energy company, it makes it harder for solar technology generally because the scores of other entrepreneurs in the solar field suddenly lost their opportunity to get capital. Who wants to put money into a solar company when the government puts half a billion into one of its choice? So instead of encouraging solar energy, he discouraged it. They don’t understand how the free economy works.”