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Marylanders Greet Romney at Town Hall (VIDEO)

"I'm not in this race as the next step in my political career," the front-running Republican candidate said at an Arbutus forum.

An over-capacity crowd of 600 or more jammed the in Arbutus to see GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney's only appearance in Maryland before the April 3 state primary.

"I'm very excited he would come to this part of the county and state, since we're usually overlooked," said Charles Michael Johnson of nearby Baltimore Highlands.

"This is very exciting for me," said Evan Richards of Lansdowne, a sophomore at Towson University who will be voting for the first time during the April 3 primary. "I've never been through a presidential campaign before."

With the GOP race still open in a hard-fought political cycle, Maryland offers candidates the chance to win 37 delegates. Romney hopes to avoid a brokered Republican national convention with former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA.

At the Arbutus forum, Romney was introduced by native Arbutian former Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

"What's the election about?" Ehrlich asked.

"Freedom," said a voice from the audience.

"Repealing Obamacare, right?" Ehrlich said.

Dressed in blue jeans and an open-collared shirt, Romney appeared at ease in front of the audience and stuck close to familiar points about the economy and his experience as a private-sector business executive.

"I'm not in this race as the next step in my political career," he said. "I don't have a political career. I've only been in government four years."

Romney told the crowd he intends to repeal "Obamacare" and eliminate regulation that he said is stifling the nation's economic growth.

"I see our president attacking economic freedom," Romney said. "He doesn't know what he's doing. He attacks ecomomic freedom by making it difficult for banks to stay in business and lend."

Romney said that the campaign trail has allowed him to meet families across the country.

"I become more encouraged and more optimistic as I meet everyday Americans," he said. "I get the chance to see people across the country that love America and are doing things that make their lives better. I am also however weighed down by some of the troubles folks are having."

Noting that the median income has dropped in the last decade, Romney said that "these are trying times in America."

"I look at what he’s (Obama's) done in his almost three and half years in his office and I just shake my head," he said. "Virtually everything he’s doing is making it harder in this economy for people to get back to work. I say that because I understand what it is that fuels this economy; it’s freedom, economic freedom."

Speaking about income inequality, Romney said, "The success of some does not make the rest of us poorer."

After speaking for several minutes, Romney answered several questions from the audience.

Bill Campbell asked Romney about financial institutions that were "too big to fail" and what he would do to prevent a repeat of the near-economic collapse of 2008.

Romney said that President George W. Bush and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson did the right thing by bailing out failing financial institutions. "People disagree with me, but I think they were right to do that," he said.

Romney also said that Obama does not deserve credit for preventing the recession from getting worse.

"I keep hearing the president say that he's responsible for keeping America from going into a Great Depression," he said. "No, no, no. That was President George W. Bush and Hank Paulson who stepped in and kept that from happening."

Patch editors, Marc Shapiro and Brian Hooks contributed to this report.

George Adams March 25, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Romney - The liberals' favorite GOP Candidate. Don't vote for Romney. Please tell all your friends to vote, we need a big turnout. These are a few reasons why Romney is considered liberal: 1) Romney created RomneyCare which ObamaCare is based on. Kennedy helped develop RomneyCare. Romney said he would repeal ObamaCare. Why would he if he supports RomneyCare, he is not telling the truth. 2) Most decisions Romney made as Govenor was liberal, not conservative. So, what make you think he will be conservative all of a sudden? 3) Romney lost to McCain by a landslide last GOP Primary, and McCain lost to Obama by a landslide. So, how is Romney going to win this time? 4) When Obama wishes Romney well in the election and name calls and villianizes the other candidates, beware! 5) Have you noticed the mass press and critics have shredded apart every GOP candidate except Romney? That is because they know Romney fits their agenda. Please, if you love the USA, vote for anyone but Romney.
S&W March 25, 2012 at 04:49 AM
I don't think it matters, This country is going to hell in hand basket.
Lorna D. Rudnikas March 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Only if we are dumb enough to permit it S&W. There is still time to turn it around, for sure!!!
Jackie Schrenker-Case March 25, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Well, I am not sure if the country is going to hell in a hand basket, but the changes that I have seen in Carroll County certainly has me concerned. Look at the who we voted in as county commissioners the last election. A board who sets their agenda based on religion, paranoia, and racism.... the only freedoms that they are interested in are those that follow their agenda.
Buck Harmon March 25, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Interesting point...I have followed the Carroll County fiasco and completely agree with you.. This board of 5 operate with selfish, personal gain motives first...county business comes last..

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