Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rolled into Farmington Hills Thursday with a message centered around business and government – and how government misunderstands business.
A crowd of about 500 attended a noon luncheon hosted by the and Livonia Chambers of Commerce at Thursday and heard a message of support from the Michigan native, who is in the midst of a heated primary battle in his home state.
Romney said when he moved from the private sector to public service, "I was amazed in government at how little understanding there was of business."
In particular, he said, government people don't seem to understand how changes to the tax code and incentives have the power to change how people do business. Romney said that when he suggested bringing a for-profit jail management company in to run Massachusetts prisons, he was told that would cost more, because the company had to make a profit.
"The whole idea of profit is to create incentives for entrepreneurs and innovators to find ways to do things less and less expensive with better quality," Romney said. "That's why America has outperformed every other nation in the world."
"Profit goes to build the business," he added. "More profit means more jobs and a brighter future."
Romney touted his business credentials, which he often compared with those of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, and noted part of the difference between government and business is "your job is harder."
"My impression is from some government people that they don't like you very much," Romney said. "I love you."
He also expressed his love for Michigan, where "trees are the right height," and for American cars. Romney said he was glad that Michigan automakers went through a "managed bankruptcy," which he said he recommended when their financial difficulties began.
Speaking for more than 20 minutes, Romney also took a number of swipes at President Barack Obama, who he said "has taken actions that have made it harder for our economy to recover." He called out "Obama-care" health initiatives that have placed a new tax on certain medical industry businesses, and Dodd-Frank financial reform, which Romney said has been burdensome for community bankers.
"If I'm president, I want to be the ally of entrepreneurs and job creators," Romney said.
Oakland County Commissioner Bill Dwyer said he liked a lot of what Romney said, especially when it came to decreasing taxes, providing incentives for business and creating jobs. He agreed with Romney that the Keystone Pipeline should be completed and on the need to address jobs being lost to China.
"When you look at what Snyder's done in this state as a business man, I think what we need in Washington is a business man," Dwyer said. "A lot of what he said hit home."
director Mary Engelman said she was pleased with the turnout for the event, which was organized in just a few days. In a statement released earlier this week, she said that the chambers are non-partisan and an invitation has been extended to President Barack Obama to appear at a future date.
"I think it's important for the business community," she said of Romney's appearance. "We need to know what his plans are for the United States ... and I think we got that today."
Not everyone appreciated Romney's message, though. On the sidewalk outside Farmington Hills Manor, a small group of protestors held signs and a large banner referring to Romney's 2008 "Let Detroit go bankrupt" op/ed published in the New York Times.
Farmington Hills resident Masha Silver said those words drove her out to protest Romney's appearance in Farmington Hills. "When Romney said 'Let Detroit go bankrupt' that really made me very, very angry," she said. "That would have ruined the whole country ... He still thinks that would have been a good idea, and that's a terrible thing to say."