Addressing Conservatives, Romney Takes Aim at McCain Legislation

By Kevin Mooney | July 7, 2008 | 8:32pm EDT

( - McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy would have a potentially lethal enemy in a President Mitt Romney.

The former Republican governor of Massachusetts told political activists gathered at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), "I can't wait to get my hands on Washington," where as president he would "fight to repeal McCain-Feingold."

The pledge to shoot down the campaign finance reform legislation earned Romney a standing ovation from the conservative audience.

Romney also characterized the McCain-Kennedy (S.1033) immigration bill as a form of "amnesty" that would grant illegal aliens millions of dollars in benefits at the expense of American taxpayers. "McCain-Kennedy isn't the answer," he said.

Both measures were co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), one of Romney's chief rivals for Republican 2008 presidential nomination. McCain collaborated on the two pieces of legislation with two of the most liberal Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (Mass.).

As governor, Romney said, he pursued border security initiatives that contrast sharply with "amnesty" legislation in Washington D.C.

In addition to vetoing legislation that would provide tuition breaks for illegal aliens, Romney noted that he also authorized state police officers to enforce federal immigration law.

"The current [immigration] system is a virtual concrete wall against those who have skill and education but a wide-open walk across the border for those who have neither," he said.

Romney also took issue with judicial activism, urging audience members to be mindful that "the people are sovereign, not a few folks in black robes."

At a time when his state became a major platform for the liberal social agenda, Romney said, he had "stood at the center of the battlefield" in defense of traditional values.

For instance, when the Massachusetts Supreme Court sought to impose same-sex "marriage," Romney responded by supporting a state ballot initiative to ban it. He also testified in favor of the federal marriage amendment.

An agenda for economic reform also featured in Romney's address. He said it was vitally important to reverse "an embarrassing spike" in federal spending. If elected, he pledged to cap non-defense discretionary spending at "inflation minus one percent" and to veto any budget that exceeded that cap.

"I like to veto and I know how to veto," he said. "I vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor."

Should Congress fail to exercise fiscal restraint, it should then provide the president with line item veto authority, Romney added.

Other reform ideas included a savings plan for "middle-class America" that would free individuals from paying taxes on dividends and capital gains, and a "top to bottom review" of all government programs and agencies.

"It is time to take the government apart and put it back together again," Romney said. "And to make it simpler, smarter and smaller."

Along with McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Romney is considered among the top tier in a crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls for 2008. Many conservatives have raised various concerns about the present or past policy positions of all three.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center of Law and Justice (ACLJ), told Cybercast News Service he had "no doubt" that as president, Romney would support the "right kind" of Supreme Court judges should vacancies occur.

Sekulow also asserted that there was growing support for Romney among evangelical voters.

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