• Brock: Chat with Romney covered Vt.
     | September 06,2012
    AP Photo

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picks up his order at Lui-Lui Restaurant on Wednesday in West Lebanon, N.H. Vermont Republican gubernatorial hopeful Randy Brock met with Romney that day.

    The Republican looking to unseat Vermont’s Democratic governor got a private meeting Wednesday with the Republican who wants to do the same to the country’s Democratic president.

    Inside a building supply store in West Lebanon, N.H., Sen. Randy Brock talked politics with GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

    It wasn’t the first time the two have met — they conversed recently in Florida and earlier at one of Romney’s campaign stops in New Hampshire. But Brock said his 15-minute conversation with the former Massachusetts governor early Wednesday afternoon was longer and more in depth than their previous encounters.

    “The governor was interested in learning a little bit about the issues in Vermont and the Vermont election,” Brock said shortly after the meeting. “And we talked about the parallel between the national scene and what’s happening in Vermont.”

    In both state and national elections this November, Brock said, voters will be focused on “jobs, the economy, unemployment and taxes.”

    While unemployment rates and other economic indicators may be healthier here than elsewhere in the nation, Brock said, Vermonters’ choice at the ballot box will hinge on who they believe can best rehabilitate local economies.

    “(Romney) and I do share in the common belief that we have to make the economic pie bigger and create more jobs,” Brock said. “And that means more business growth and more economic vitality.”

    Brock said Romney is warmer and more outgoing than his detractors would have the public believe.

    “We did have a very good chance to get to know each other better,” Brock said. “I thought he was outgoing, he was friendly and very personable in my discussions with him.”

    Brock said they know some people in common in Boston, “from my old days at Fidelity.” He said the Romney campaign contacted him to set up the meeting, at which a number of Romney staffers were present.

    Asked whether aligning publicly with the GOP presidential nominee makes good sense, politically, in a state that went more heavily for Barack Obama than anywhere but Hawaii in 2008, Brock said it did.

    “Right now Vermont has all its eggs in one basket. We have in effect single-party rule in the Legislature, and single-party rule in our top statewide offices and congressional delegation,” Brock said. “There’s a very real likelihood, given what’s going on in America, that we’ll have a new administration in Washington in November, and I think it’s very important that Vermont not be so dependent on people who will no longer be in power.”

    Brock said his support for Romney doesn’t signal blind allegiance to the national GOP platform. Brock is pro-choice, though he does support parental notification laws.

    “Vermont Republicans sometimes align with some of the positions of the national party and sometimes not. We’re a pretty independent breed,” Brock said. “To the extent I can learn something from and piggyback off things that Mitt Romney is doing, I can help Vermont. To the extent we come upon issues down the road on which we may diverge, I’m not afraid to be my own man.”

    @Tagline:peter.hirschfeld @timesargus.com

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