“We are increasingly becoming like Europe. Europe is not working in Europe. It will never work here”
-Mitt Romney, January 7th in New Hampshire primary debate.
Mitt Romney declared on June 17 on CBS’s Face the Nation that the United States is “not going to send checks to Europe.” So there would be no bail out of the European banks from the US if Romney were president.
Since the beginning of the euro-zone crisis, Europe seems to have become a pejorative word and an important issue in the US elections. Many analysts have stated that Romney has argued all along during the presidential campaign that President Obama wants to turn the US into a European-type socialist country. They are asserting that Romney says Obama wants to follow the same way of growing welfare budgets and public debt that led to the European crisis.
For Romney, the presidential elections will be a battle for “the soul of America”. Voters will have to choose either between “a European-style welfare state” much closer to Obama’s policy or Romney’s “free land” perception of the US, that is, maintaining a competitive and prosperous land of opportunity. According to Mitt Romney, voters will have to choose a different path from that followed by Europe if they want the 21st century to be the “American century”.
The former governor of Massachussetts strives for demonstrating that Obama’s policy is to become increasingly like Europe, that is a synonym of higher deficits and recession for the US.
“You are not going to see Obama standing alongside Greek columns (in Charlotte at the upcoming Democratic convention). He is not going to want to remind anyone of Greece, because he has put us on a road to become more like Greece” said Mitt Romney in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 18.
Romney seems intent an associating Obama with the euro-zone crisis, always asserting that Obama takes his policy inspiration from the old continent. A situation of an ongoing and unprecedented economic crisis in Europe is used by Romney as a possible scenario in the US if Obama is reelected.
“I surely don’t believe that we should expose our national balance sheet to the vagaries of what’s going to be happening in Europe.” said Romney on June 17 on CBS’s Face the Nation.
One wonders whether Romney really abhors Europe or if he is just using this rhetoric as a strategic move in order to appeal to conservative voters. Indeed, Romney learned French in the 1960s when he went to France for a Mormon mission for more than two years. He has also taken vacations in France, and has called Paris a beautiful city. And his French is quite good.
Europe is surely not a pejorative word for Romney most of the time. But the economic crisis in the euro-zone came at the right moment for him to appeal to more conservative voters who are not enthralled by the old continent.
By Elsa Romeyer, Editorial Assistant for Transatlantic Magazine in Washington, DC this summer.