Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks at a Gwinnett County Republican Party rally held in Duluth Thursday evening.
DULUTH -- A day after presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in Atlanta for a fundraiser, Gov. Nathan Deal defended the politician's recent controversial comments as he rallied for Romney's election Thursday in the GOP stronghold of Gwinnett.
Deal said Romney's recent comments about a growing percentage of Americans relying on government programs, with a shrinking group of those paying taxes, echoed concerns of political philosophers when this country was created.
"We're getting outnumbered by people who don't pay ... The truth is the truth," Deal said to a group of more than 100 GOP leaders. "It is something we ought to wake up and realize because it jeopardizes the country on many levels."
The governor said Georgia has been fortunate to maintain a steady, albeit slow, economic growth during his two years in office, but he said the election of Romney would lift a "cloud of uncertainty that hovers over the country right now," allowing for big economic gains.
"I think we'll see a bonanza the likes of which we haven't seen in this country in a long, long time," he predicted, if Republicans regain control of the Senate and the White House in the November election.
Deal also tried to convince the crowd to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the state's right to charter schools without approval from local school boards.
Deal noted the controversy in the county, where local Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks pushed for a no vote during a Chamber of Commerce speech Wednesday,
"I haven't seen any issue as distorted ... as this one has become," Deal said, adding that while Gwinnett is fortunate to have a quality school system, some areas of the state have drop out rates as high as 50 percent.
"I think it is an opportunity," Deal said, again extolling Norcross charter school Ivy Preparatory Academy.
In a rally designed to coordinate a push for Republican candidates, Deal said party enthusiasts should not take for granted that Georgia is a red state.
"We're not a swing state by most calculations," he said. "But we need to have a big showing at the polls in November."
County Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who is chairing Romney's campaign in Gwinnett, discussed a strategy after the governor's speech, seeking volunteers not only to knock on doors to boost turnout here but to travel to swing states like Florida and Ohio to campaign.
"As someone who has experience losing close campaigns," Beaudreau said, referencing a tight loss in a primary runoff last month, " you don't want to wake up the next morning and think about what could have been."