Republicans trotted out two more entrepreneurs at the GOP convention last night to reinforce the party's argument that Mitt Romney's business experience makes him better suited than the incumbent to turn around the American economy and create better conditions for businesses.
When Governor Romney at last took the stage to accept his party's nomination, he too emphasized what he called President Obama's lack of understanding about entrepreneurship and job creation, and outlined his own five-step plan to create 12 million American jobs. The plan was short on details, and at least one report this morning points out that economic analysts predict a gain of 12 million jobs by 2016 regardless of who is in office.
But a poll of 250 small business owners conducted this summer by Yahoo! and IpsosMediaCT showed that Romney is the candidate favored by more small business owners. And the key issues of concern to those polled are the same ones Romney promised in his speech to address.
Ninety percent of Democrats and 93 percent of Republicans surveyed by Yahoo! said healthcare reform is "at least a minor consideration" they're weighing to judge the candidates' suitability to support small business. Romney promised last night to rein in healthcare costs and to repeal and replace Obamacare. With what he did not say.
Corporate tax rates, access to capital and loans, and burdensome regulations are also top issues for small business owners surveyed by Yahoo! Romney said his plan for jobs creation includes reducing taxes on business and simplifying and modernizing regulations that hurt small business the most. Romney also said he would assure "every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish." He did not say how.
Staples founder and former CEO Tom Stemberg told the convention how he benefited directly from the support of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital's equity investment in his startup 25 years ago. Stemberg credited Romney with sharing his vision of a company that could help entrepreneurs and small businesses get started on their own with discounted office supplies. "[Romney] got really excited about the idea of saving a few cents on paper clips," Stemberg said. "Who would make a better president? Someone who knows how to save a dollar on pens and paper, or someone who knows how to waste $535 million on Solyndra?" The questions drew roars, cheers, and whistles from conventioneers.
Inciting chants of "they just don't get it," Stemberg said of the Obama administration: "They don't believe in the spirit of the entrepreneur. They don't understand what it means to risk money to create something new. And they don't understand the hard work it takes to get a business off the ground, the sacrifices you make, the little league games you miss."
Florida businessman and Cuban immigrant Ray Fernandez recalled for the audience how Bain Capital overhauled Wessley Jessen Visioncare when he was a young contact lens salesman there. Bain's investments under Romney's leadership led to the company's successful initial public offering, he said, which rewarded Fernandez and his wife with enough stock returns to start their own business. "My life today is better because of Bain. Mitt Romney turned around my company. I can't imagine anyone better to turn around this country," he said.