About 4,000 Mitt Romney supporters battled the heat and humidity Thursday afternoon for a chance to hear the Republican presidential candidate speak at a free grassroots rally at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.
The crowd chanted, “Mitt, Mitt,” as they waited for his arrival.
“We need a job creator and not a community organizer in the White House,” said Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, in his welcoming statement.
“This is a critical election about the soul of America,” Romney said to an energized crowd. “It’s time to get a president who understands how to get America working, and I do. I want to restore the principles that made America the hope of the world.”
Domenick Falconetti, owner of Domenick’s Blinds in Sarasota, pulled a trailer to the event with “Our small business which we built is 4 Romney.”
“My wife and I worked very hard to start this business. It’s insulting that (President Barack) Obama said we didn’t build it,” he said. “I believe everything Mitt Romney stands for. Small businesses and the economy are in trouble. The world is not a better place. People don’t have jobs.”
Country artist Jason Michael Carroll provided entertainment before several local and state political candidates and incumbents spoke of the importance of electing Romney on Nov. 6.
As rally-goers lined up to enter the event area, they were confronted by protesters shouting anti-Republican Party messages. Police officers monitored traffic and divided the crowds, who occasionally bantered back and forth.
“Shame on you women, shame on you,” yelled Gail Pontuto at women in line to go see Romney speak.
“These women ought to know better,” she said, adding that under a Romney administration women’s rights would be challenged.
“Hang your heads,” the Venice resident repeatedly shouted.