- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said more Americans are being seduced into relying on the government instead of on themselves, thanks to the policies of President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Mr. Obama’s policies encourage “a growing sense of dependency and entitlements,” and are making some Americans “less apt to create new businesses, to strike out on new adventures and pursue opportunities that have always been the source of America’s vitality economically,” he said.

Mr. Romney, who sought the Republican presidential nomination last year, spoke to The Washington Times after addressing the annual conservative Values Voters Summit in Washington this weekend.

The mention of Mr. Romney’s name in political circles instantly raises the question of whether he will make another run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

He did not dismiss a suggestion that Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and Sen. John McCain’s running mate in 2008 and object of disdain among liberals and some Republican centrists, might be asked to run with him in 2012 if he decides to go for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I’ve given no thought to my own run, let alone who would be my running mate,” he said.

But when the conversation turned to religion, Mr. Romney sounded like he had a presidential bid very much in mind.

Reminded that some evangelical Christians do not regard his Mormon religion as Christian and a few are openly antagonistic toward it, he said his Mormonism is a problem for a tiny minority of religious bigots in the country, but not a serious obstacle to his winning the 2012 Republican presidential nomination if he seeks it or the presidency.

“There will always be a small subsection of the country that makes its decisions on the basis of bias and bigotry - it is not decisive in most of our elected contests,” he said while relaxing his room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

Harking back to his 2008 nomination bid, he said, “I look at a state like Michigan that I won and I did so with a majority of support of among evangelical Christians as well as other faiths. Likewise, I received support of other states with a variety of religions - 13 states voted for me in that last presidential sweepstakes.”

He noted that by the time he bowed out of the contest, he had “received roughly 4 million vote and I think John McCain received 4.4 million votes at that point. That is a pretty good indication that when it comes to the large number of Americans and the big vote tallies needed to win elections, religions is not going to be a deciding factor.”

During much of the interview, he was hard on Mr. Obama’s performance in his first eight months in the Oval Office, saying his policies are “affecting the national character, creating in the case of some individuals a culture of dependence.”

He noted that the president did inherit a deep recession and a surge in the growth of big government from his Republican predecessor in the Oval Office.

But Mr. Obama has managed only to make things worse, by getting the supposed stimulus spending cure for the recession all wrong and by pushing Congress for still more government control, Mr. Romney said.

“I’m not a fan of he president’s stimulus plan,” he said. “I would have adjusted tax policy to stimulate new jobs.”

Mr. Romney said he would have moved up spending on replacing military equipment that has been destroyed or run into the ground during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That would mean no new spending on new government programs and acquisitions but plowing money into the economy now - for needed hardware and machines - that would have been spent later in any case.

Reforming health care in the United States without resorting to more layers of government and stripping patients of their decision-making rights is not as hard as Mr. Obama and his divided Democratic allies in Congress are making it, Mr. Romney said, citing the health care system he got the Massachusetts legislature to enact while Mr. Romney was governor.

When the subject turned to his reading habits, Mr. Romney said his sources for topical information have shrunk somewhat.

“I don’t read magazines like I used to,” he said. “I used to read Newsweek and Time, but they have taken a turn to a different course that I don’t quite understand.”

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