CUYAHOGA FALLS: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he’s watched some of President Barack Obama’s recent campaign rallies where supporters chant “Four more years!”
With only a month to go in the presidential race, Romney said during a campaign stop outside the Natatorium that he wants to put his own spin on that serenade.
“I think the right chant oughta be for them, ‘Four more weeks,’ ” he said to an enthusiastic crowd of at least 11,000 people who gathered on a chilly fall night. The crowd, of course, chanted that phrase more than a few times during his 15-minute speech.
It was Romney’s first visit to Summit County for this campaign.
He and other Republicans who took the podium before him urged those in attendance not to allow Obama to return to the White House, citing unacceptable unemployment figures, increasing poverty rates and the rising nation’s debt.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, repeated campaign promises expressed before: to repeal so-called Obamacare, strengthen the military and not raise taxes on small businesses.
“We face some major challenges in this country,” he said. “This debt is a threat to us. It’s got to end. This economy is not creating the jobs it should. We gotta fix it. Our schools aren’t preparing our kids for the jobs of tomorrow. We’ve got to fix them so we give our kids the right prospects they deserve.”
He concluded by saying: “The soul of America is at stake. This is a time we have to come together and take back America. We’re going to do it. Ohio is going to elect me the next president.”
Romney was accompanied to the rally by Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey who said that Obama has been unable to repair the country during his four years in Washington and he deserves a plane ticket back to Chicago.
“Let’s put the people back in charge of America — not the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.,” Christie said.
Before Romney arrived at the event, local Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor of Green, stood at the podium and took swipes at Obama’s record.
Ohio’s finances and economy are turning around but no thanks to Obama, Taylor said.
“Gov. [John] Kasich and I are working hard to get Ohio back on track to create jobs but we have the wind in our face,” she said. “President Obama is standing in our way instead of helping us do what’s best for Ohio. We need a change this November.”
The crowd also heard from Mark Bedenik, a United Auto Workers union member from Brunswick who said the president “talks a big game but the fact is he has forgotten about middle-class people like me and you and the residents of Cuyahoga Falls.”
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart reminded the crowd that President George W. Bush had visited the same exact spot in October 2004 for a campaign rally.
Bush went on to win another four years.
Robart said he hopes Romney’s visit helps launch him to the White House, as well.
Thousands of people waited hours in line to get into the event. They had to pass through metal detectors and tight security.
Ella Sandels, 71, of Cuyahoga Falls, said she feels sorry for some Democrats.
“Some people follow the party so seriously and forget about the purpose of the man who’s running for office and what his possibilities could be that they’d vote for Donald Duck because he was a Democrat,” she said.
George Huff, 73, a retired truck driver from North Canton, said he came “to see the next president.”
“We need somebody with everybody’s interest in mind,” Huff said.
Adam Westfall, 32, of Akron, who served in the Marines and is now a student at the University of Akron, said he wanted to show his support for the campaign.
“I believe in [Romney’s] morals,” he said.
The event also attracted the curious.
Simon Moskowitz, 16, of Cuyahoga Falls, said he wanted to attend the rally for the experience of it all.
“It’s cool to see all these people,” he said.
Not everyone was supportive.
A small group of protesters stood outside the rally site. One person dressed in a big yellow bird costume — a reference to Romney’s stance that he is in favor of ending federal subsidies for public broadcasting.
Before heading to Cuyahoga Falls, Romney had visited Iowa to outline his agricultural plan to help farmers. His visit to the city included an impromptu stop at Wendy’s restaurant on Howe Avenue.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.