PALM BEACH, FL — Mitt Romney went well beyond his standard stump speech at a closed-door fundraiser on Sunday evening, and offered some of the most specific details to date about the policies he would pursue if elected.
In a speech to donors in the backyard of a private home here, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive GOP presidential nominee outlined his plans to potentially eliminate or consolidate federal agencies, win back Latino voters and reform the nation’s tax code.
Romney went into a level of detail not usually seen by the public in the speech, which was overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below. One possibility floated by Romney included the elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Cabinet-level agency once led by Romney’s father, George.
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”
Asked about the fate of the Department of Education in a potential Romney administration, the former governor suggested it would also face a dramatic restructuring.
“The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I’m not going to get rid of it entirely,” Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers’ unions.
First of all, the “overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below” thing is great. My hope is that there was an MSNBC reporter with the night off who happened to be out for a nice little walk in this neighborhood. There he was, ambling around contentedly, perhaps eviscerating a giant meatball sub, when he suddenly heard a familiar voice coming from a nearby house. I know that that’s probably not how it went down, but a man can dream, can’t he?
More substantively (I did, after all, promise meatier fare, and I don’t think a meatball sub reference suffices): It’s hilarious to hear Romney talk about his imaginary interior redecoration of the federal agencies. It’s all just so… CampaignLand, so detached from any real-world pressures or problems. It’s like someone who is flat broke speculating as to whether it would make more sense for the Central Park West penthouse he hopes to one day buy to have a home office, or whether he should leave that room open in case he and his wife decide to have another kid.
Also, I’m curious about what ideological guidelines would dictate that a) the government shouldn’t have a heavy-handed federal role in the public school system; and b) the government should have a heavy-handed federal role in what tend to be local fights over teachers unions. But I’m sure it’s a very principled, carefully thought-out position.