Shortly before presidential candidate Mitt Romney was set to take the stage to address some 700 Republicans in Colorado Springs, his traveling press secretary, Eric Fehrnstrom, stopped by the media stall to give a heads up.
The “key” topics that the former Massachusetts governor planned to talk about, Fehrnstrom told reporters, included “oceans” — that is, Romney’s latest campaign ad in which he talks about cleaning up the “cesspool” of violence and sex and drugs and perversions in which our children swim.
Also, Romney planned a hit on Democrat Barack Obama’s comment, made the day earlier, supporting sex education for kindergartners.
What? Keep reading.Sure enough, during his speech, Romney talked about the oceans theme, and then used it as a segue to dig at Obama — (the YouTube video clip of that episode was then posted the next day in Romney’s campaign Website).
But before we give the context for that claim, a few other highlights.
Crisscrossing the state earlier in the day, Romney raised $150,000 at fundraisers at the Roaring Fork Club in Aspen, the Inverness Hotel in Denver and at the home of former United States Olympic Committee President Bill Hybl in Colorado Springs.
At the Lincoln Day Dinner, at the 5-star Broadmoor hotel, numerous legislators and other elected officials were in attendance, including Attorney General John Suthers (who received the county party’s Republican of the Year award) and Secretary of State Mike Coffman. State GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams spoke, as did county party chairman Greg Garcia (including this nugget: “The socialistic media is preventing us from getting a word in edgewise”).
Don Armstrong, who for months has been embroiled in a battle with the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish in Colorado Springs, gave the opening prayer. The master of ceremonies was County Clerk & Recorder Bob Balink, who briefly wore an enormous top hat with Lincoln-esque whiskers attached.
Romney, the keynote speaker, was well received during his half-hour speech. He got plenty of laughs, first saying that he appreciated the size of the audience in the GOP stronghold — that there were “more Republicans in this room than in my entire state.”
Other laugh generators involved a description of a conversation Romney said he recently had with his wife, Ann.
Mitt Romney to Wife: “In your wildest dreams did you ever think I’d run for president of the United States?”
Wife to Mitt Romney: “Mitt, you weren’t in my wildest dreams.”
Romney also talked at length about a 1962 American Rambler that his family got him for his 60th birthday.
Then he criticized the three top-tier Democratic candidates running for president, suggesting they were all career politicians with no experience in the private sector, love big government and want to raise taxes.
Romney then did what few Republicans have been doing lately in stump speeches: he praised George W. Bush — though not by name.
“This president has kept America safe,” he said, to loud applause.
Romney commended Bush for standing up to Democrats, particularly over the Patriot Act, noting that “terrorists” need to know that if they are captured, “we are going to interrogate you.”
“A war is being waged by terrorists and as long as there is a Republican president there will be a war on those terrorists,” he said.
Romney turned his focus to family, highlighting his latest campaign that was inspired by an essay that former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote shortly after the shootings at Columbine High School, opining that American children are swimming in filthy waters, waters that need to be cleaned up.
And then he led into the sex education for kindergartners claim about Obama.
“I heard a quote today from Senator Barack Obama which puzzled me,” Romney said. “He said that we should have sex education in kindergarten — I’m not kidding you. And I scratch my head as I hear that. Sex education in kindergarten.
“As governor, I was governor four years, I never had a parent come to me, not once come to me, and say, “You know what, governor? I’m concerned about something.’ What’s that? `I’m concerned we don’t have enough sex education. I don’t think our kids are learning enough about sex.’
“I never heard that, and so I was shocked to hear that he thinks we need to have sex education in kindergarten. I don’t think that’s a problem, I don’t think that’s a need. He went on to say, course it should be age appropriate. How much sex education is age appropriate for a five year old? In my view zero is the right amount.
“Instead of teaching about sex in kindergarten to five year olds lets clean up the ocean of filth, the cesspool in which our kids are swimming.”
Romney’s claim about Obama drew gasps from the audience.
And since his speech, the Obama-supports-sex-ed-for-5-year-olds has been shooting through cyberspace, resulting in the following statement issued by the Obama campaign. (The full video of Obama’s comments, in which he expresses support for “age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in schools,” can be viewed by clicking here.
This is the Obama statement:
“Barack Obama supports sensible, community-driven education for children because, among other things, he believes it could help protect them from pedophiles. A child’s knowledge of the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching is crucial to keeping them safe from predators.”
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org