CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien told a crowd of several hundred people outside the Statehouse on Friday that it was no coincidence the annual tax filing deadline falls so far from Election Day. But the presidential hopefuls who followed him spoke as if the 2012 election was just around the corner.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum cast the election as a choice between agreeing with the nation’s founding fathers or President Barack Obama, whom he described as pushing an agenda aimed at “controlling the lives of every able-bodied working person in America.”
“That is the fundamental choice that Barack Obama laid out, and frankly, that is the fundamental choice of this election,” he said at the third annual Tax Day Tea Party rally organized by Americans for Prosperity-New Hampshire. “Are we a country that is again going to believe in ourselves, in free people, in limited government, so we can transform the world and leave our country better than we found it?”
Santorum said voters who elected Obama wanted a president they could believe in. “Now after two years of watching what President Obama has done to this country, America has now realized what they need is a president who believes in them,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I believe in you.”
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty led the crowd in chanting “Yes, he did!” as he listed all of what he called Obama’s broken promises, in a twist on Obama’s “Yes, we can!” campaign slogan.
“Thanks for being modern-day Paul Revere patriots who are sounding the alarm and sending the message across this state and the entire United States of America that we’re here to take back our country,” he said. “Have you had enough of $4 a gallon gas? Have you had enough of a federal government that is out of control? Have you had enough of big government and big unions and big bailout businesses scratching each others’ backs and asking you to get out your wallet and asking you to pay for their recklessness and stupidity? We’re here today to send a message to them and to our fellow citizens across this country … don’t tread on me.”
Businessman and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain got some of the loudest applause after declaring that he had been speaking at tea party rallies since “before it was cool.”
“A sleeping giant — we the people — has awakened, and it’s not going back to sleep,” he said. “We the people are still in charge of this country, no matter what you decide to call us.”
Making the most direct plea for support in the GOP primary was former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who plans to finance his campaign with donations of $100 or less.
“I take a different approach than all other candidates running for president. … I’m the only guy running for president who challenges the special interests. … I am free to lead a rising America.”