A/V: Beavercreek Hosts GOP Front-Runner

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney answers a question during a town hall meeting event in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.

Trying to make up ground in the closing days before this coming Tuesday's Ohio presidential primary election, current national front-runner Mitt Romney made a campaign stop in the Dayton area on Saturday afternoon.  Approximately 1,200 people attended a town hall meeting at the US Aeroteam facility in Beavercreek to rally support for the former Massachusetts governor who has been steadily climbing in the polls and, in several, has pulled into a statistical tie with his main rival, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, in pursuit of the state's 66 delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention.


US Senator Rob Portman (center) makes introductory remarks at the Romney town hall event in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.  Behind Portman are the candidate (right) and former Ohio State University and current New York Jet center Nick Mangold (left).

Several notable politicians, including US representative Michael Turner (R-Dayton) and US senator Rob Portman warmed up the crowd and Centerville native--and current New York Jet center--Nick Mangold handed the microphone off to Romney so he could share his campaign's objectives with the attendees prior to taking questions from audience members. 

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney address a town hall meeting crowd at US Aeroteam in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.  Seated at the far right of the photo is the company's CEO and president Suhas Kakade (seated far right), and Jim Zahora, executive vice president and COO, is to Kakede's right.

After a moment of silence for those affected by Friday's devastating storms in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, Romney turned his attention to his host, Suhas Kakade, CEO and president of US Aeroteam.  The candidate used Kakade's success in America to tout his campaign's plan to entice foreign advance degree holders to come to the United States for "freedom and opportunity" though the issuance of H-1B work visas.  He mentioned other entrepreneurs that he has met on the campaign trail who he says epitomize the Declaration of Independence's ideals of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

Mitt Romney answers a audience member's question during a town hall meeting in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.  Seated on stage behind the candidate are (from left to right) NFL player Nick Mangold, US senator Rob Portman, US representative Michael Turner and Ohio state senator Chris Widener.

On the economy, Romney, who has spent 25 years in the business sector, touted himself as someone who understands how it works.  He reminded the audience of President Obama's promises of cutting the deficit in half and keeping unemployment under 8 percent if his $787 billion stimulus was enacted.  "This is a president who is out of ideas, he's out of excuses, and, in 2012, we'll make sure he's out of office," Romney told the cheering crowd.

One enthusiastic audience member shows a unique method of support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a town hall event in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.

His remedies to improve the economy include the repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act--more commonly referred to by the program's critics as "Obamacare", the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other regulations seen as restricting business activities and hampering job growth.  Romney would propose new tax policies to encourage growth and investment through a 20 percent decrease across all income brackets  as well as pursue trade agreements to have American products compete worldwide.

A standing-room only crowd listens to remarks given by Mitt Romney at a town hall rally in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.

Inside the confines of a defense contracting facility, Romney touted his support for the military and his opposition to looming cuts to the Pentagon's budget in the coming years.  The reduction in ships, planes, personnel and veterans benefits would be reversed in a Romney administration because "a strong military is the best ally peace has ever had."

A Romney supporter awaits the start of the campaign's town hall meeting in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.

Romney's only mention of his primary rivals came at the conclusion of his prepared remarks when he said he doesn't think job creation is "something debated in congressional committee" (his three rivals all have served in either one or both chambers of Congress) and that he hasn't spent much of his own life in government.  During the almost 30-minute question-and-answer session, the candidate addressed issues concerning jobs, the growing divide in Congress, proposed cuts and changes to existing government programs, US military operations in Afghanistan, rising prices for food and gasoline, and the housing market.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with supporters at the conclusion of a town hall event in Beavercreek, Ohio on Saturday.

Some members attending were still undecided leading up to the event.  Steve Alexander, a self-proclaimed "social conservative" from Troy, Ohio, came with his two young children out of curiosity.  He said that he hadn't made up his mind between Romney and Santorum and wanted the former to make his case for improving the economy without tearing down the latter.  "I want to hear him building himself up instead of tearing others down", Alexander said.  He believes that Romney has a strong resume and business background but was wary about him being coined "the establishment candidate" and remembers how others similarly labeled had "taken us down bad paths before" in 1996 and 2008.  If Romney were to run a campaign reminiscent of McCain's from four years ago, he believes that many voters like himself may stay home instead of casting their ballots for the Republican nominee.

The Romney campaign bus awaits the arrival of the candidate and his entourage to take them to an evening event in Cincinnati.

Margaret Wilkes, a former schoolteacher and volunteer with the Montgomery County Republican Party headquarters, is a Romney supporter this year as well as during his 2008 failed bid.  While seeing good qualities in both of his major rivals, Wilkes sees Romney as the candidate who has "the experience, the mentality, the background and even-handedness" that she feels is necessary for someone aspiring for the nation's top office.  When asked who she would favor as a running mate, she cited Florida senator Marco Rubio for his "communications expertise" as well as being able to bring Hispanics and Tea Party members into the general election process.

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