Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Romney raises big bucks, GOP hopes

Actor/director Clint Eastwood endorses former governor

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Gov. Butch Otter, right, introduces GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to supporters at River Run Lodge in Ketchum last Friday evening

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addressed 325 people in everything from baseball hats to cocktail dresses at a fundraiser in Ketchum on Friday, proclaiming that President Barack Obama has failed as president.

According to Romney's campaign staff, the former governor of Massachusetts raised more than $2 million on his Ketchum-Sun Valley visit. Ticket prices ranged from $1,000 for the reception to $25,000 for a private dinner.

Romney told the crowd at River Run Lodge that, when elected, Obama had promised to lower unemployment, reduce the number of home foreclosures, cut health-care premiums and raise the national median income. None of these things has happened, he said.

Instead, the exact opposite has occurred, he said. For example, a jobs report released on Friday stated that unemployment rose from 8.2 percent in June to 8.3 percent in July.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that national unemployment hit a record high near 10 percent in October 2010, but has been falling ever since.

However, Romney said that foreclosures have risen, unemployment is still high and business start-up rates are at a 30-year low.

"On his own report card, [Obama] hasn't done so well," Romney said.

Romney argued that if re-elected, Obama would continue to raise taxes on "job creators" and small businesses.

"If your priority is punishing people who are successful, he's your guy," Romney said, later asking rhetorically, "Is there something wrong with being smart and working hard?"

Romney was joined by Gov. Butch Otter and First Lady Lori Otter, along with actor and director Clint Eastwood, a part-time valley resident.

When asked by pool reporters outside the function why he was endorsing Romney, Eastwood first deadpanned that he wasn't.

However, he turned more serious during his formal remarks, stating that the country's tax system needs to be fairer.

For example, he said, Olympic medalists are required to pay income tax on their medals and cash winnings. While a bronze medal has a market value of less than $5, the United States Olympic Committee offers cash prizes with each medal—$25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze, according to recent news reports.

Those prizes must be reported as income and taxed accordingly, along with prizes from the various sports' governing bodies, which can reach $250,000 in the case of wrestling and $100,000 in cycling.

Eastwood said it is unfair of the government to seek to tax these achievements.

"Here we are, trillions of dollars in debt, and here we are talking about a couple of nickels, in their language," Eastwood said.

Obama's press secretary stated on Monday that if a bill to exclude Olympic medals and prizes were to pass Congress, the president would support it.

"If it were to get to his desk, he would support it," said White House spokesman Jay Carney during a press briefing Monday.

Eastwood said he met Romney when directing "Mystic River," Eastwood's 2003 drama that was filmed in Massachusetts.

Romney was running for governor at the time, and Eastwood said he clearly remembers viewing a number of political ads for the former governor.

"I thought, 'He's too handsome to be governor, but he does look like he could be president,'" Eastwood said, adding, "I'm going to be voting for him."

Eastwood's endorsement of Romney follows that of Jenna Jameson, a retired porn star who told CBS San Francisco on Friday that she'll be voting for him as well.

"When you're rich, you want a Republican in office," she said.

Gov. Butch Otter also endorsed the candidate, with whom he shares party affiliation.

"Welcome to the land of the balanced budget," he told Romney and his staff while introducing the candidate at the event.

He later said that Romney is the ideal occupant for the White House, due to his emphasis on taking advantage of the United States' energy resources and his enthusiasm for tax reform.

"It's what we need, it's what we deserve and it's what we'll get with Mitt," Otter said.

While the United States government is not required to balance its budget, most states—including Idaho—have a balanced-budget provision that prohibits a projected deficit.

Idaho ended fiscal year 2012 on June 30 with $75.5 million in funding, which was set aside in a capital reserve.

During his remarks, Romney promised that if elected, he would cut the federal deficit and balance the federal budget.

"This economy's going to come roaring back," he said in closing. "We've got to keep America the hope of the Earth."

The lucrative event continued a string of successful fundraisers for Romney. In July, the GOP candidate hauled in an estimated $100 million, compared to $75 million for Obama.

Kate Wutz:

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