Romney in S.C. touts his turnaround plan

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, tour Colite International in Columbia on Tuesday and speak to employees.

TIM DOMINICK

COLUMBIA -- Mitt Romney stood back and watched his wife, Ann, as she described to a capital city crowd Tuesday the way she sees her husband.

"We need a leader who knows how to turn things around," she said. "Mitt's a turnaround guy."

It was that simple exchange, their well-worn lines about being high school sweethearts and the details about their five children and 16 grandchildren that allowed Justin Mims to see the former Massachusetts governor as more than a two-dimensional political candidate.

Mims, a junior economics major at the University of South Carolina, said Romney seems to be a family man, and he likes that.

After the introduction from his wife at Colite International, Romney jumped into all the missteps he said President Barack Obama has made. Romney said they include the $787 billion federal stimulus package, cap-and-trade legislation, new regulations on the banking and finance industry, the federal health care law and appointing pro-union "stooges" to the National Labor Relations Board.

As president, Romney said he would repeal the heath care law signed by Obama in 2010, cut the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition, and hand over control of Medicaid to states, among other measures he said would restore America to a "job-creating machine" and cut spending.

State Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Denmark Democrat and an Obama supporter, said he sees Romney as a "turnaround guy" too. "He turns around often," Sellers said. "He flips and flops."

Sellers said Romney's got no original ideas. Rather, he is recycling national GOP ideas that would create a "devastating" tea party-backed economic plan.

A handful of Occupy Columbia protesters were escorted out of the Romney event before it started. They protested outside the facility for attendees to see as they left the property.

Mims was one of several college students and new graduates who came out to support Romney. Matt Mancini, a 23-year-old new University of South Carolina graduate, said he likes that Romney comes from a business background. Romney's plan to downsize the government is something that will bring him a lot of support in South Carolina, Mancini said.

The White House hopeful spoke for about 15 minutes and was swarmed afterward by the press and supporters. He signed signs and bumper stickers and posed for pictures before heading off to the next stop on the campaign trail.

Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855, follow her at twitter.com/yvonnewenger and read her Political Briefings blog at postandcourier.com/blogs.