Hurt Believes Romney's Business Acumen Is Vital

Published 4:43 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FARMVILLE – Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt believes Mitt Romney's private sector background will be the Republican's greatest strength in the campaign against President Barack Obama.

“When you see how difficult it has been for the Main Street business, for the small business…When you look at how hard it's been for those folks who are admittedly the backbone of our economy, I think you need to have somebody who's had the private sector experience to be able to see what's important and what's not,” the GOP congressman said during an interview with The Herald while touring small businesses in the area.

“And that's got to start at the top,” Rep Hurt continued. “When you look at the policies that have come out of Washington over the past three years, especially out of the administrative agencies, that really comes from the top.

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“And so when you have agencies that don't care to do a simple cost benefit analysis in the implementation of rules, whether it be labor rules, environmental rules, whatever the activity is,” explained the Chatham attorney, “if you don't have somebody that's willing to do that, and willing to weigh the benefits and the costs, I think you end up having just piled up, perhaps through good intentions, you end up having piled up a regulatory structure that makes it impossible to succeed.

“So I think,” he concluded, “that's what we've seen out of this current administration, with all due respect-how important it is to have common sense rules. Not no rules, but common sense rules.”

The congressman described the primary battle as “an interesting process to watch, for sure.”

The highly competitive fight at one point saw virtually every GOP hopeful win a primary or top national polling before Romney solidified his position. No punches were held.

“You look at sort of the sound and fury and it reminds me a little bit, actually, of the primary race that was here in the Fifth District a couple of years ago,” Rep. Hurt said, recalling his own nomination from a crowded and competitive field that he said at the time had made him a stronger candidate for the general election.

“I think that that process is a good process but I think also it can go on too long so I'm glad to see it looks like the other candidates seem to be standing down,” he said. “It will be good for the party to be able to focus on the (November) election.”

Much of Romney's focus will be trying to energize the Republican conservative base, a significant portion of which has doubted his conservative credentials during a primary season that saw his rivals claim he isn't a true conservative.

Rep. Hurt believes Romney's authenticity will not be an issue among party loyalists and that the election will transcend intra-party issues.

“I think it's (the election) going to be more important than 2010 in terms of having the American people express the direction we want to go in this country. Do we want larger and larger government or do we want limited government and more and more freedom and more opportunity, individual opportunity? And I really do think that's what this election will be about,” he said.

The base will turn out and vote and Americans will turn out and vote because so much is riding on the result, he believes, as President Obama and Romney engage each other and the nation.

“It doesn't need to be a nasty discourse. I think it can be a very civil discourse. I think the choices before us are pretty stark. If that's what the election's about I think that Romney will be able to count on people in the base to understand that and recognize how big this election is,” Rep. Hurt said. “I would doubt there will be many people on either side who will sit this election out because of the importance of the election.”

Regarding the possibility of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell getting the nod from Romney to be his running mate, the congressman said, “I think he's still in the running for that. Obviously there are a lot of good people who are possibilities…I think it's important to have a good team.”

As in 2008, Virginia is being regarded as a bellwether state for the national election. As Virginia goes-also eying the Kaine-Allen U.S. Senate battle-so goes the nation.

“I think you're right,” the congressman said. “I think the idea that Virginia's going to be ground zero once again is exciting. It's important and it's sort of remarkable that we find ourselves in that spot…It would appear to me that the president is doubling down on Virginia…The US senate race is going to be ground zero, just like our Fifth District (race) was two years ago.”

Virginia, Rep. Hurt predicts, will be “a hotbed of activity.”