Romney touts free enterprise at the Clinton Global Initiative (VIDEO)


Former US President Bill Clinton walks to the podium with Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting on September 25, 2012 in New York City.


Mario Tama

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, calling for an approach to foreign aid that would increase the role of free enterprise in developing nations.

Beginning his speech with some humor, Romney said, "If there's one thing we've learned this election season, it's that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good. After that introduction, I guess all I have to do is wait a day or two for the bounce," according to Reuters.

In his speech, Romney focused on foreign aid, while extolling the virtues of free enterprise. "Economic freedom is the only force in history that has consistently lifted people out of poverty and kept people out of poverty," he said, according to The Huffington Post.

"The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise," Romney said, while making the case that the unrest in the Middle East was fueled in part by economic deprivation.

"Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy, and that is that free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation," he said, according to The Washington Post.

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Romney outlined his plan for foreign aid, which would be closely linked to trade policies, private investment and corporate partnerships under his leadership, The Post reported. While Romney did not say he would cut foreign aid budgets, he did criticize them for focusing too much on providing social services instead of encouraging long-term reforms and helping countries build their economies.

"A temporary aid package can jolt an economy. It can fund some projects. It can pay some bills. It can employ some people some of the time. But it can't sustain an economy - not for long," he said, according to Reuters.

While President Barack Obama was addressing the United Nations General Assembly in another part of town, Romney kept his criticism of the president subtle while speaking to an audience which included many high-profile Democrats.

Some of Romney's subtle digs against Obama happened when he spoke of domestic issues. He said, "Sadly, we have lost over half a million manufacturing jobs over the last four years," according to The HuffPost.

Near the end of his speech, Romney said, "I will never apologize for America," though as The Post pointed out, fact-checkers have disputed Romney's assertion that Obama has offered apologies to foreign governments.

The entire transcript of Romney's speech can be found at The Wall Street Journal.

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Watch Romney's speech, via Politico: