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May 28, 2011 / J. Shaw

Romney on Ryan Budget plan, Past Issues

Likely presidential candidate Mitt  Romney hedged Friday on his support for a House Republican budget outline  that seeks to reduce spending by cutting federal programs such as Medicare.

Romney was asked by a reporter during a stop in a  Des Moines suburb whether he would sign the Republican plan if he were  president. But the former Massachusetts governor declined to answer.

“That’s the kind of speculation that is getting the  cart ahead of the horse,” he said.

Romney emphasized that he supports the goals of the  Republican plan, offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul  Ryan, but that he would offer his own proposal for reducing spending and  cutting the federal deficit.

One of the most controversial aspects of Ryan’s plan  has been its call to replace Medicare’s fee-for-service system with  government vouchers.

Earlier, Republican presidential candidate Tim  Pawlenty came under pressure after he initially declined to fully support  the Ryan plan. He later said he would sign the plan into law if he were  president. Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Newt  Gingrich faced a backlash earlier after publicly criticizing Ryan’s Medicare  proposal.

“If we don’t make any changes, then Medicare won’t  be there for the next generation and that’s unacceptable to me. So I appreciate  what Paul Ryan has done,” Romney told reporters in Ankeny after visiting an  agricultural software company. “I’m going to have my own plan.”

Romney was making his first visit to Iowa since  formally beginning to explore a second bid for president. He plans to announce  his 2012 candidacy next week in New Hampshire. He finished second in the state’s  leadoff presidential caucuses last time and is expected to wage a more limited  campaign.

His carefully planned day hit a snag during an  appearance in Des Moines. A fire alarm triggered by burnt microwave popcorn,  forced the evacuation of a museum during a question-and-answer session that  followed Romney’s speech.
That sent Romney and the roughly 200 people  attending the event onto the street outside.

Romney, who served one term as Massachusetts  governor, is stressing as he approaches the 2012 bid his business and private  sector background as an investment company executive and CEO of the 2002 winter Olympics.

Aides said Romney did not develop this niche in 2008  and at commented too often on less familiar cultural issues, which hurt him in  socially conservative Iowa. Romney had supported abortion rights, gay rights and gun  control as governor.
Romney returned to Iowa focused squarely on the  economy.

“What I know and what I’ve spent my life doing is  particularly relevant right now,” he told the 200 people at the museum event,  including Republican activists and past supporters.

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