By Jeff Odom
An electrified crowd of 15,000-plus packed the stadium at Land O’ Lakes High Oct. 27 to hear about the vision presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has for the United States
People donning red, white and blue flocked from across Tampa Bay for a chance to see Romney in person. The early arrivals got to the entrance of John Benedetto Stadium around noon for the rally for the Republican Party’s nominee for the nation’s highest office.
Zephyrhills resident Paul Cheever said he wanted to show his support for Romney because he believes the country is heading in the wrong direction, especially the support for the military.
“I’m 71 years old,” Cheever said. “There was 12 children in my family — seven boys, five girls — and every one of the boys has served for the country in the military. Our country has gone so far down that my heart breaks for all the men and women that have lost their lives. … They fought for our country to get in the shape it’s in right now.”
On stage, Romney told supporters they had a “clear choice” on Election Day, even joking about his opponent, President Barack Obama.
“At (Obama’s) rallies, they all cheer, ‘Four more years.’ I think our chant should be, ‘Ten more days,’” Romney said.
Those in attendance followed with that chant throughout most of Romney’s speech, where he hit key points like repealing Obama’s healthcare plan, reforming Medicare and cutting government spending. He also told the crowd stories of military veterans, Boy Scouts and families across the country that have made sacrifices.
Jan Coad of Land O’ Lakes was glad to see Romney at the school she graduated from in 1977.
“Well, No. 1, I think Romney will be the next president,” Coad said. “I can’t believe he’s (in) Land O’ Lakes. He’s the only one that can help us out of the mess that we’re in.”
Brett Hatcher, 13, has been trying to spread his support of Romney with his fellow classmates. Even though he isn’t of age to vote, he said he was honored to see him in person.
“It’s nice to see someone else,” Hatcher said. “(Romney’s) a republican. I kind of support republicans, and he’s really good for president. … I’m not the best with politics, but I think he’ll do really good.”
The rally was not without conflict, however, as some questioned why the event was at a public school.
Pasco County School District policy states students are not allowed to participate in political function on a school campus. But in the case of Land O’ Lakes High — where the Gators’ cheerleaders and Mitchell High band performed during the afternoon — officials said those students volunteered, which complies with the district code.
Romney closed the evening by thanking those who came to support him and said it’s up to them vote Nov. 6.
“I need you to vote early; I need you to get out and vote,” Romney said. “Americans have a clear eye for the truth and America is going to win. … When we win Florida, we’re going to win the White House.”