At a $2,500-per-person fundraiser at Isleworth Country Club in suburban Orlando, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney berated President Barack Obama for being out of touch with middle-income Americans and for stating that he did not know the Affordable Care Act was hurting businesses.
Speaking to about 150 people, Romney covered much of the same rhetorical ground he covered in a speech before almost 400 small business owners earlier in Orlando, at Con-Air Industries, though he added more .
Afterwards, those in the crowd who donated at least $50,000 joined Romney for a private lunch at an undisclosed home in Isleworth, a meandering community of lakeside mansions that are homes to many of Orlando’s rich and famous.
Romney told stories of a barber, an upholsterer, a furniture maker, a truck driver and a back surgeon who struggled against the economy to make businesses thrive. He used their stories to praise the success of entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship. Innovation. Risk taking. A belief in America that if you’re willing to work hard and you have a little bit of luck and an education, the sky’s the limit. It’s the nature of how our country works,” Romney said.
Obama does not understand that, he said.
“The recovery has taken longer because of what he has done,” he said.
Romney gave a impassioned call for economic freedom, beginning by citing the founders’ drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
“They said that we were endowed by our creator with our rights. Not by the government. Not by the king. Not by the state. And that meant that in this country, the citizen is sovereign, not the government. And that we would be free, politically free to choose our representatives, economically free, and among our rights are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We would be free to chose our path to happiness as we choose.
“And some people have people have chosen paths that have been extraordinary successful. And their success doesn’t make us more soft. Their success makes us more powerful, and successful as society,” he continued. “This economic freedom is what has driven America’s economy. And we must not substitute government for freedom in this nation.”
Romney was introduced At Isleworth by U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, who is running for U.S. Senate. Together with Orange County Commissioner John Martinez and Winter Park-based lobbyist Genean Hawkins McKinnon, the gathering included three children of former Republican U.S. Senators – Connie Mack III, Mel Martinez and Paula Hawkins.
Mel Martinez also was there, along with former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, former U.S. Ambassador John Rood and former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Romney also praised Florida Republicans’ favorite son, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, whom Romney reportedly is considering as a running mate. The mentions, at both Con-Air and Isleworth, brought thunderous applause.
“By the way, that response doesn’t just happen here,” Romney added at Isleworth. “It happens all over the country.”