Flanked by commercial fishermen, and with a possible running mate behind him, Mitt Romney today accused President Obama of letting regulators "run amok."
The presumptive GOP presidential nominee said regulators are "just multiplying like proverbial rabbits."
“If I’m elected president, I am going to be a pro small business president and fight for the rights of small business,” the Belmont resident said.
Romney said President Obama continues to hinder small business growth with the passage of national health care reform and too much federal regulation that raises the cost of running a business.
Couple these things with President Obama’s energy policy that allows for less drilling for oil on federal lands and Romney said small businesses such as New Hampshire’s commercial fishermen are left with high diesel fuel prices that hinder their ability to make ends meet.
“We need a president who understands the power of free enterprise,” Romney said. “The president is focused on helping those who need the help the least. I want to help everybody, particularly those who are being left behind.”
He chastised Obama for not focusing more on the economy, creating jobs with higher wages, and lowering the cost of higher education, which is what Romney said voters care the most about.
Romney, dressed in a black jacket and jeans, was accompanied by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Before addressing supporters at the Portsmouth Fish Pier, they toured some of the fishing boats docked at the former Portsmouth Fishermen’s Cooperative that closed three years ago.
Ayotte said Romney would be the kind of president the country needs to help small businesses and New Hampshire fishermen do well again.
“It is actually unfortunate to see what has been happening to New Hampshire fishermen, who are exhibit A as to why we need to make sure President Obama doesn’t get another term,” Ayotte said.
Ayotte said the Obama administration doesn’t understand that New Hampshire fishermen are a vital part of the state’s economy and “who we are.” She said Romney does understand that and with enough voter support in November, Ayotte said, “Help is on the way.”
The number of New Hampshire commercial fishermen has declined over the last 10 years because of federal regulations that imposed strict catch limits on species such as cod, haddock and flounder amid concerns that those and other species were being overfished and needed time to recover under the federal Magnuson-Stevens Act, a fishery conservation and management law under the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Young fishermen like Joshua Heath, 23, of Hampton, said he would definitely vote for Romney if he made good on his promise to help small businesses and his fellow fishermen.
“In a heartbeat, of course,” he said. “If he says there is a way that I can have a future in this business, he is going to get my vote, no question about it.”
Chris Adamaitis of Portsmouth, a lobsterman who owns his own boat, “Rough Times,” said he is also inclined to support Romney over President Obama because Romney would provide the relief from government regulation that is making it so hard for the few remaining New Hampshire fishermen to stay in their industry.
Between regulations that include strict catch limits on fish such as cod and haddock, high diesel fuel prices and a lobster market that is becoming less lucrative, Adamaitis said fishermen need some relief.
Ariane Cameron of Rye said she brought her 2-year-old daughter, Phoebe, to the Romney event because she is a “big Mitt fan.” As a member of the “Moms for Mitt” group, Cameron believes Romney can turn things around for the better because “he has the actual real world experience.”
She also believes this next election will affect her daughter. “I don’t want to leave her the debt,” said Cameron of the national deficit.
Democrats kept to the Prescott Park area, across a channel from where Romney spoke, could barely be heard chanting "Obama." Terie Norelli, a Portsmouth Democrat and the Minority Leader in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, appeared at the pier before Romney's remarks to tout President Obama's record on the economy and national security.
"Unfortunately," she said (see attached video of her full comments), "Mitt Romney's economic scheme is all too familiar and troubling. It's more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and fewer rules for Wall Street. That's what got us into trouble to start out with."
As Romney greeted supporters at the state pier, he declined to answer reporters questions about Ayotte being in the running as his vice presidential choice. This is the second New Hampshire stop for Romney in a week: He appeared in Manchester last Tuesday, after winning five primaries on April 24, to stake claim as the "presumptive" Republican nominee for president.