Mitt Romney rallies supporters at St. Pete Pier
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10/08/12 Samuel Johnson
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As dusk set in last Friday, Mitt Romney stumped to several thousand supporters at the Saint Petersburg Pier Park. Romney’s speech focused on taxes, health care and personal anecdotes.

In the largest swing state, Romney leads by only 2 points in the latest Rasmussen Poll. As his supporters cheered, Romney said his campaign has been reinvigorated by his performance in last week’s presidential debate.

“I enjoyed that debate a couple of nights ago. It was a great experience. I was a chance. I think that Jim Lehrer did an excellent job at raising issues and having the candidates talk about our rather than that kind of gotcha that sometimes happens with media interviews. I thought it was a good chance to ask each other questions. I asked the president some of the questions I know people across America have wanted to ask him.”

The media has criticized Romney him for being vague on the details of certain issues. Yet to some of the attendees the rally was not about facts and figures. They wanted to experience firsthand, the positive momentum Romney gained from the debate. Ken Cousins, a Romney/Ryan supporter, said Romney has been candid about details.

“You can only do so much in the time you've got to speak. So, yeah, I'd like to hear just a few more. But I think he's given out quite a few. A lot more than the other side has.”

Romney’s economic plan is based on reducing taxes which he claims will create jobs. Romney made that pledge to small business owners.

“A trillion dollars. They've already raised them a trillion so it's really two trillion when you put that together. That's an increase in taxes on small business among other places. By the way, that'll mean less jobs. It's been calculated that his (Obama) tax plan raising taxes will cost 700 thousand jobs. I will not raise taxes on small businesses and I will not raise taxes on middle income families. Rather than costing 700,000 jobs my tax plan will help create 7 million jobs.”

Not everyone was at the rally to support Romney; there were about 20 protesters outside. Some had megaphones and some were holding signs. A man dressed in a Big Bird costume engaged in a mock fight with a puppet Mitt Romney. During last week’s debate, Romney vowed to cut funding to PBS as part of budget cuts. But some see that as a contradiction given that presidential campaigns have embraced federal support for education. One protester, Chuck Turgin, said the Republican Party is becoming anti-education.

“I hope that the disdain for education that you see coming from the right especially. Oh you know?; it's elitist to be smart or to actually get an education. I hope that goes away because I see it going in a very bad direction if that trend continues.”

Romney said Obama will slash Medicare by $716 billion. According to PolitiFact that claim is misleading and partially true. Nonetheless, Romney promised he will not cut Medicare for current recipients.

“Now his path takes us down a course that will cut our funding for Medicare for today's seniors not for tomorrow's seniors; for today's seniors by $716 billion. I will honor the promise made to our seniors. I'll restore the $716 billion he would cut.”

In a statement from May he has since backed away from, Romney said he wasn’t going to get the support of 47% of Americans who are reliant on government programs. But Romney tried to dismiss impressions that he lacks compassion by telling personal anecdotes of Americans he has met along the campaign trail.

“I am confident as I see you here. I know of your patriotism and your love of the country. I know you're not here because you like me; or well, maybe because you like Ann. And even because you're conservative Republicans. But because you care about America. That's what brings you here. And I've seen America. I've seen the greatness of the human spirit in my fellow Americans. It gives me confidence in our future. I know we can raise to the occasion. I seen it time and again. I've seen it throughout my life.”

Romney continues to campaign. Monday he gave a major foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute.

More photos from the rally and protest

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