ST. GEORGE – Republican Senate candidate Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in St. George Monday, first touring a part of Dixie Technical College’s new campus and finishing the day taking questions at a gathering at Vernon Worthen Park.
Visiting Dixie Tech
While at Dixie Tech, the former Massachusetts governor was shown a part of the school’s digital media design and welding programs.
“It’s an impressive facility, number one. And number two, it was impressive to meet the faculty and young people getting skills that are actually going to lead to jobs,” Romney said. “Often times in education we are doing things that are interesting and mind expanding, but they’re not going to necessarily lead to a real job. When I go to Dixie Tech, I see people getting skills where they get hired.”
Following his short visit to Dixie Tech, Romney attended a town hall held in the SunRiver community. From there he and his team went to Vernon Worthen Park where he answered various questions from a crowd of over 100 attendees.
Questions at the park
A main theme of Romney’s message is that he believes the federal government has taken too much power from the states. If it is not a power specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution, such as education and health care, it should be left to the states to manage, Romney said.
One of the most recent government power grabs was the Affordable Care Act, he said.
A way he proposed to bring down as least some of the cost of health care was getting hospitals to publish the cost of their services and procedures, as well as be rated on overall quality so prospective patients could choose which hospital would work best for them. This concept was put into practice in Massachusetts during his time as governor, Romney said.
Other issues Romney addressed included school safety and use of America’s military.
“I hope we realize that schools and school safety are very different in parts of our country,” Romney said.
In New York City, where the police force is over 30,000 strong, he said, it’s not so much an issue to have police officers in school. However, in rural counties like those in Utah, the primary police force may only consist of a county sheriff and his two deputies. As a result, any federally-pushed, one-size-fits-all solution isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem, he said.
“I tend to think this is something that should be focused on at the state level,” Romney said.
As to use of military power abroad, Romney said the United States should only apply its might in extreme circumstances. More hurdles should also be put in place before military action can be taken, he said, adding that the president should always go to Congress for approval of military action.
America’s military also shouldn’t be used as a kind of world police force, Romney said, referencing the previous military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We can’t win freedom for people. They must win that for themselves,” he said.
On Rep. Mike Kennedy
Romney was asked what made him different from state Rep. Mike Kennedy, who is running against him for the Republican senatorial nomination in the June 26 primary.
Kennedy, a 49-year-old physician from Alpine, has been a member of the Utah’s state House of Representatives since 2013, representing District 27.
Kennedy edged out Romney in the final delegate balloting at the state Republican Convention in West Valley City April 21, winning nearly 51 percent of the votes to Romney’s 49 percent.
Since then, Kennedy has been campaigning throughout the state, trying to win over voters in hopes they’ll see him as a viable alternative to Romney.
However, Romney said he hadn’t noticed much difference between himself and Kennedy policy-wise, yet he believes he has an advantage over Kennedy due to his preexisting network of relationships in the nation’s capital.
Typically a junior senator isn’t going to have much influence when they first arrive in Congress, Romney said, yet with the connections he’s built over the years, he has “a good chance of getting things done.”
Roger Taylor, a Hurricane resident who showed up at the park wearing a shirt displaying his support for Kennedy, said he believes Romney’s connections are more of a disadvantage than benefit.
“I consider that his weakness,” Taylor said. “I think of his connections to Washington, and it’s what I don’t want. I want somebody who is independent, can think for themselves and think for the people of Utah.”
Romney supporter and St. George resident Jonathan Bacon sees Romney’s experience as an advantage for the potential junior senator.
“I really like the fact he’s not going to be a traditional junior senator,” Bacon said. “He’s going to carry a little more clout in Washington, D.C., unlike some other candidates in Utah.”
Pertaining to medical marijuana, an issue that has been highlighted in Utah recently due to the ongoing battle over the medical marijuana ballot initiative, Romney said he’d like to see marijuana legally prescribed by physicians and distributed through regular drug stores.
“I don’t want to see corner stores selling brownies and gummy bears laced with marijuana,” he said.
As for where the candidate stands on the current ballot initiative?
“I do not support the initiative in Utah which makes it close to being a recreational drug,” Romney said.
St. George News reporter Jeff Richards contributed to this story.
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