By Meta Minton
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in his fourth public event in as many years in The Villages, showed he knows how to greet Florida's Friendliest Hometown.
"It's always a beautiful day in The Villages," he said as he took the stage Tuesday afternoon at Colony Cottage Recreation Center to rousing applause.
He also demonstrated he knows how to capture his audience's imagination.
He talked about touring America's national parks as a youngster, then quoted a poem from the 1800s by Sam Walter Foss.
"Bring me men to match my mountains/ Bring me men to match my plains/ Men with empires in their purpose and new eras in their brains."
In quoting that poem, Romney explained to the audience his love of country and, in a nutshell, why he is running for president.
"I believe in the American people. I believe in America," Romney said.
Unlike the gloom-and-doom crowd, Romney said he's bullish on America's future.
He said President Barack Obama in three years has presided over chronic unemployment and sliding home values worsened under his administration, thanks to borrowing from foreign countries and failed stimulus programs.
"He's trying to find someone to blame," Romney said of the president. "His failure is because of his failure to lead."
Romney said his 25 years in business have convinced him that innovation and ingenuity will lead America into the future -- if given the chance.
"I will do everything in my power to make sure America is the most attractive place in the world (to do business)," he said.
Playing off Stephen Covey's well-known "7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Romney offered his own
economic equivalent. He said to be successful, the seven necessary ingredients are:
1. Tax rates that keep America competitive with other countries.
2. A regulatory environment that encourages entrepreneurs.
3. Effective trade policies.
4. Energy policy that takes advantage of American resources.
5. Rule of law.
6. Institutions that build human capital, in other words, high-performing schools.
7. Immigration policy that is effective.
"And we can't allow government to spend more than it takes in," he added.
The former Massachusetts governor offered strong support for two bulwarks of the American system -- Social Security and the Department of Defense.
"Social Security has worked pretty darn well for 75 years," he said. "To fix Social Security, you have to believe in Social Security."
Romney suggested that America's defenses have been drained over the years and now the country has an aging and depleted Navy fleet and Air Force.
He said rebuilding the numbers of those ships and planes would bolster both the economy and America's pride.
"I believe the American people will rise to the occasion. We've done it before. We'll do it again," he said.