Romney stumps in Exeter, chats with PEA students

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Former Mass. governor Mitt Romney spoke to Phillips Exeter Academy students and faculty at the student center on Thursday.
Scott Yates
Mitt Romney (R)
Former Governor, MA
Born: 03/12/1947
Birthplace: Michigan, CT
Home: Belmont, MA
Religion: Mormon
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EXETER Taking the opportunity to "Ask Mitt Anything," students at Phillips Exeter Academy on Thursday talked with presidential candidate Mitt Romney about issues important to them: education, health care, abortion and gay marriage.

The forum at the Phelps Student Center was filled with not only interested students, but residents and community members as well.

Before turning the floor over to students to ask their questions, Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, took them back to when he was in high school and began dating his first girlfriend, now wife, Ann. When the two met at a party, which she attended with another date, Romney said he persuaded Ann to let him drive her home, since he lived closer.

"We've been going steady ever since," he said to laughter.

Romney told students he never envisioned a life in politics, but rather thought he would stay in business.

"When I began this quest (to run for president), I turned to my wife and said, 'In your wildest dreams, did you ever see me running for president?' Romney said. "She said, 'Honey, you weren't in my wildest dreams.'"

Romney said America is going through an inflection point, a time when the culture and economy are changing. He related the time to the American Revolution and the turn of the century.

"I think we are going through one of those right now," he said. "It either leads to a stronger nation or a weaker nation. We could remain even stronger with an even more prosperous future in store. I think we will take that course."

Romney said the country has never faced a challenge like the jihadists, whose intent is to cause the demise of the nation as well as other nations.

In addition, he said, the country will have to take care of domestic challenges like spending too much money in Washington, too high a dependence on foreign oil, schools that are failing too many students and health care that leaves too many out.

"You take them together and that's almost a perfect storm," he said.

The cause, he said, should be to strengthen America through its citizenry, not its government. Strengthening the military, economy and America's families will set the right path, he said.

"It will make your future brighter and more prosperous than mine," he told students.

PEA junior Grace Colby, who leans toward the Democratic party, she said, found Romney's visit "better than expected." She said there are still ideas she does not agree with, but learned things about the candidate.

"I like his energy plan that intends to work globally and get everybody involved," she said.

Colby said she still has a bit of a "qualm" with Romney's lack of support for the right to choose abortion, combined with his desire to increase military members.

"I don't understand how he could not sign a bill that ended life, but he wants to bring in 100,000 more military personnel," she said.

Pepita Walker of Exeter said she is supporting Romney for his thinking and his youth.

"Plus, he's likeable and he has a sense of humor," she said. "What more could you want?"

Walker enjoyed hearing Romney's thoughts on supporting legal immigration and doing away with illegal immigration and his efforts to lower taxes.