LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney, while clearly buoyed by the $10.25 million his supporters raised today, is nonetheless not ready to rule out what could become another potent financial weapon in his all-but-certain presidential run: tapping into his own personal wealth.
“That’s counsel I’m going to keep with Ann and myself, and that’s all,” he said, referring to his wife. “So I can’t give you any more update than that. We’re just going to keep that to our own counsel.”
The decision could be significant, not only on Romney's pocketbook but also on the contours of the race. During the former Massachusetts governor’s 2008 presidential campaign, he used $42 million of his own funds. One of Romney’s potential rivals -- Jon Huntsman Jr., who comes from a wealthy family – has already ruled out self-financing his campaign.
“If we were to get in the race – no self-financing,” Huntsman told reporters recently in South Carolina. “Unless you can raise it legitimately, you’re not going to win.”
Romney spoke to reporters after an event here held on the campus at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He met with a dozen Republican students, delivering a economic-filled message along with burgers and fries from In-n-Out Burger (Romney dug in, taking large bites of a burger while the students nibbled on some fries: “Looks like I’m the only guy who wanted a burger at four in the afternoon,” Romney joked.)
Romney also commented this afternoon for the first time on the decision of his former rival – Mike Huckabee – to not pursue a second presidential bid.
“I took that news with mixed emotions,” Romney said. “On the one hand, I’m happy to not be facing a tough and effective competitor in Mike. But on the other hand, he’d be a veteran and we’d have good times together. And I’ll miss him on the campaign trail.”
Romney also continued to explain his position on health care, one in which he fully backs the plan his signed as governor of Massachusetts while still criticizing a similar plan on the national level signed last year by President Obama. As part of that explanation, he trotted out a new analogy, comparing states' ability to regulate health care with their ability to also regulate education.
“We have in my state a curriculum that we provide to all of our schools, our high schools, and we test kids across the state on our curriculum,” Romney said. “I like what we’ve done, it’s a pretty good job. But the last thing I’d suggest is to take the Massachusetts curriculum for schools and have President Obama tell every state they’ve got to use the Massachusetts curriculum. That would make no sense at all. The needs of different students and the rights of people in different states have to be recognized.”
But while Romney has called for a full repeal of the health care legislation – saying that would be his first action as president – he is not prepared to say that same for financial reform legislation.
Romney has recently criticized the financial reform bill that was approved last year in response to the financial mismanagement that contributed to the economic collapse.
“Whether you repeal the whole bill wholesale is something which you’d have to resolve after you had a chance to look at each of the pieces of regulation that comes forward,” he said. “But clearly the consumers deserve protection.”
“Legislation and regulation is important, but the level of over-regulation and burden which has been placed on the financial services sector I think is unnecessary and will cost us jobs down the road,” he added.
Romney also made an appeal here to Hispanic voters, saying his party had to do more to win over a growing segment of the American electorate.
“In my view we as a party must connect with Hispanic voters,” Romney said. “If we do our job and do our job well, we’ll have Hispanic voters voting for conservatives, voting for Republicans, because ours is the party of opportunity. And people who come here as immigrants overwhelmingly come here for opportunity, not for checks from government.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.