By James Hagan…. Romney Rally Fires Up Locals…
Long a conservative stronghold, Pensacola greeted Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with an enthusiastic capacity crowd at the Pensacola Bay Center on October 27. Surging in the polls on the eve of the election, the confident Romney opened his speech by telling the crowd “we’re going to win this. You know that? We’re going to win this.”
Expanding upon his theme of turning the economy around, Romney’s speech eschewed social issues and detailed how a Romney administration would create millions of new jobs and elevate the middle class. For many rally-goers, Romney’s focus on the economy struck the right tone.
“He’s a business man,” said Tom McKean, a small business owner of a trolley company. “He’s going to make the economy grow. Every word he said up there is the truth.”
The economy has been the defining issue of the 2012 campaign, and the rally even saw people cross party lines to hear about Romney’s plan.
“I thought the speech was phenomenal,” said Joann Chelstowski, a self-described Democrat and a former small business owner who said she has been unemployed for three years. “I owned a real estate company and now I can’t get a job at Home Depot. Romney can get the economy turned around.”
Kinda Salerno noted that her family, which includes six kids, relocated from Nebraska to Alabama due to the tough economic times. Formerly a small business owner, Salerno noted that it was concern for her kid’s future that motivated her to attend the rally.
“I want my kids to go to college and have a great future. This is why I’d have to go with Romney. He tells it like it is,” she said.
Romney’s pledge to support defense spending also proved popular to attendees.
“Think of all the jobs that are lost with defense cuts. When you diminish the military, cities like this can’t grow,” said Diane Cunningham, a Marine widow. “I loved the speech, and I loved him. I’m looking forward to having him in office. He’s honest.”
Aside from their admiration of Romney, many people expressed disappointment and anger towards President Obama’s performance in his first term.
“Obama has got to go. He does not care about the American people,” said Cur t Carter, who said that his home has depreciated in value 30 percent over the last few years. “Obama has put us six trillion dollars in debt. Look at the job market; look at the price of gas. He’s an idiot, and anyone that votes for him is a bigger idiot. Romney tells the truth. People should listen.”
Paige Swain was impressed by the large turnout and enthusiasm towards Romney.
“It’s great to be surrounded by so many people that believe in America and really see the need for real change that the Romney/[Paul] Ryan team is offering. The event made me even more excited to cast my vote for not only Gov. Romney but for every Republican on the ballot. Two more months of Obama is all this country can afford.”
Romney’s demeanor impressed Jeff Anderson.
“Romney is more Presidential. He has all the momentum and that’s why he came here,” Anderson said. “While Obama talks about the last four years and makes excuses, Romney talks about the next eight years and makes plans.”
While Romney will spend the last week of the election attempting to persuade independents and undecided voters, many Romney supporters at the rally were just there to be a part of history.
“I’m just here to see the next President,” said James Peterson. “I even brought my nephew to show him what makes this country great.”
With a little over a week until the election, after Romney’s speech enthusiasm was high about his chances for victory.
“I firmly believe he’s going to win,” said Jamie Daniel.