GREENWICH–It was billed as a rally, but the public portion of Mitt Romney’s campaign stop for Tom Foley clocked in Thursday at 7 minutes, 36 seconds.
A longer look required a $1,000 ticket to a fundraiser luncheon that Foley hoped would raise at least $50,000 for his campaign for governor.
Romney, the once and presumably future Republican presidential candidate, is touring the country on behalf of Republicans, picking up chits to cash in if he runs in 2012.
“I was a big supporter of Mitt when he first ran for the Senate in Massachusetts and then again when he ran for governor,” Foley said. “And I’m a big supporter of his running for president.”
Romney, 63, the former governor of Massachusetts, was the runner up to John McCain in 2008 for the GOP presidential nomination. He insisted Thursday he is undecided about 2012.
He met Foley nearly 30 years ago, interviewing him for a job as Foley was finishing at Harvard Business School, which also is Romney’s alma mater.
Foley said he raised money for Romney’s unsuccessful Senate campaign against Ted Kennedy and his successful gubernatorial campaign, but sat out the 2008 presidential season as the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
“I hope he is the next president,” Foley said.
Romney arrived without a jacket or tie. As he posed for pictures in a fraternal hall owned by the Improved Order of Redmen, Foley peeled off his own jacket and tie.
“I’m adjusting,” Foley said, rolling up his sleeves. “I didn’t get the memo from the Romney people.”
Romney said he was in Connecticut to underscore a choice voters will make this year.
“What kind of state do you want to be? Do you want to be like the state of New York, where taxes go higher and higher and higher and jobs go away and the deficits gets larger and larger?” Romney asked. “Or, instead, do you want be like Virginia, like New Jersey, under new leadership with Chris Christie, like Texas?”
The next governor of Connecticut stands to inherit a budget deficit of $3.4 billion.
Romney said he inherited a $3 billion deficit upon his election as governor in 2002.
“I found out it was a lot easier than I expected to be able to balance that budget,” Romney said.
Foley has made the same promise offered by Romney eight years ago – to balance the budget with no new taxes.
“I love this race, because there is such a difference between me and my opponent, Dan Malloy,” Foley said.
Foley said he intends to attack Malloy’s record as mayor of Stamford and to brand Malloy as a tax-and-spend Democrat.
“We’re going to be talking about his record in Stamford, where they lost over 13,000 jobs since 2000,” Foley said. “We’re going to be talking about his plan, which he’s already talked about raising taxes in Connecticut, which is a big mistake.”
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s media strategist, said Malloy and Foley agree on one thing: There is a sharp contrast between them
“Dan spent 14 years creating thousands of jobs, lowering crime, making government smaller and more effective, expanding access to education — all while holding the line on taxes. Dan ran Connecticut’s most successful city. While he was doing that, Tom Foley was buying companies, driving them into bankruptcy, laying people off, and taking away their financial security – all while paying himself tens of millions of dollars.
“We’re looking forward to the first debate.”