Romney And The Economy: Two Ways To Read His NH Victory Speech

Jan 11, 2012

A number of media outlets(including the Boston Globe) noted that Mitt Romney's victory speech after the New Hampshire primary felt more like a general election speech than a nomination contest speech.

But we're less interested in the flavor of Romney's speech than we are in the text and the overarching themes. As we've noted in previous posts, the number one issue for more than 60 percent of New Hampshire voters is jobs and the economy.

So how did Romney respond to those concerns during his acceptance speech?

If you look strictly at word count (visualized in our word cloud above), the answer is "No." But when you dissect the full speech transcript based on themes, you do get a different result.

Although he didn't often directly say "the economy" and "jobs," Romney did take up significant chunks of time discussing economic themes. We've pulled the pertinent transcript quotes below for your perusal.*

"The middle class has been crushed. Nearly 24 million of our fellow Americans are still out of work, struggling to find work, or have just stopped looking. The median income has dropped 10% in four years. Soldiers returning from the front lines are waiting in unemployment lines. Our debt is too high and our opportunities too few.

And this President wakes up every morning, looks out across America and is proud to announce, 'It could be worse.'

It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse? Of course not.

What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know it must be better. That conviction guides our campaign. It has rallied millions of Americans in every corner of this country to our cause.

Over the last six months, I've listened to anxious voices in town meetings and visited with students and soldiers. In break rooms and living rooms, I've heard stories of families getting by on less, of carefully planned retirements now replaced by jobs at minimum wage. But even now, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, I've rarely heard a refrain of hopelessness.

Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times. We still believe in the hope, the promise, and the dream of America. We still believe in that shining city on a hill.

We know that the future of this country is better than 8 or 9% unemployment."

Romney later alluded to his economic plan by tying the economy to free enterprise:

"President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our Party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success. In these difficult times, we cannot abandon the core values that define us as unique — We are One Nation, Under God.

Make no mistake, in this campaign, I will offer the American ideals of economic freedom a clear and unapologetic defense."

Then, he moved closer to home for voters:

"I'm asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American. I want you to remember when you spent more time dreaming about where to send your kids to college than wondering how to make it to the next paycheck. I want you to remember when you weren't afraid to look at your retirement savings or the price at the pump. I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become."

As always, we'd love for you to hang out in our comments thread. Is the economy your top concern? And did Romney's speech address that concern to your satisfaction?

*Romney did spend some additional time discussing the effects of regulation on the economy, but we didn't include those quotes because when polled, NH voters didn't specifically note that regulations were a top concern.

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