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Montana governor blasts Romney on higher milk and gun ’fees’

Gov. Barry Schweitzer

Gov. Barry Schweitzer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer raised two issues in his speech here Thursday night that could cause problems for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: higher milk taxes and more expensive gun licenses.

Speaking from the podium at the convention, Schweitzer said that when Romney was governor of Massachusetts he raised taxes and fees by $750 million per year.

“I'll let you in on a little secret: when a politician doesn’t want to be honest about a tax hike, he calls it a fee,” Schweitzer said. “Mitt raised taxes — uh, fees — on driver’s licenses, on school bus rides, on mental health services and even on milk.”

“And here’s the one that got a burr under my saddle: he quadrupled the fee for a gun license! Maybe that'’s okay for a guy who hunts ‘varmints.’ But for the rest of us, that dog don't hunt. Mitt, you can't Etch-A-Sketch away your record.”

The Wall Street Journal noted in a blog entry late Thursday that several years ago Romney told Republican gun enthusiasts that he hunted, but described his game as “varmints,” which reinforced his urban, non-hunter image.

According to About.com, a division of The New York Times, Romney's exactly quote was:

“I'm not a big-game hunter. I’ve made that very clear. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.”

According to About.com, Romney also said, “I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life,” although his campaign later said he'd been hunting twice, once when he was 15, and once in 2006 at a Republican fundraiser.