Outside of Lansing Community College’s Dart Auditorium Tuesday, about 15 Mitt Romney supporters were cheering and waving signs as southbound vehicles passed them on North Capitol Avenue.
Enthusiastically awaiting his arrival hours before the event, in the shadow of a Romney campaign bus, the small group brandished American flags and signs bearing the GOP presidential candidate’s name. When a car honked its horn in support, the group responded back with hoots and hollers.
“Who doesn’t enjoy getting a horn honked at them?” asked Mike Wilson with a laugh. Wilson traveled about 60 miles from Grand Blanc to see Romney speak.
He believes the big issue in this year’s election is going to be the economy and, in his opinion, Romney has the qualifications to improve it. Wilson joined the street side group to “drum up support” and encourage “enthusiasm.”
“For the last three years, Obama has had no ideas on how to fix the economy, and I think it’s gone beyond his depth,” he said. “I don’t think Obama has any malicious or secret intentions, but hope and change are not good government strategies.”
Wilson’s views on President Obama were quite reserved compared to some of the other statements and claims made before and after the event. One group of women talked about how they should be able to claim undocumented immigrants and welfare recipients as dependents on their taxes because they “pay for them.”
There were mentions of how Obama has been “bought” and is “controlled” by “union bosses.”
Inside the auditorium, an older gentleman before the speech made a point to mention off-the-cuff that Barack Obama started his 2012 campaign right around the day that Vladimir Lenin, the Marxist revolutionary, was born.
The apparel was more glaring. One t-shirt for sale featured a picture of Obama wearing a turban and being crossed out by a red line with the words, “VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.” Another, with a dumb-founded looking donkey inside a red circle with a line through it, proclaims: “DUMP THE DONKEY! VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.”
It’s only at political gatherings like this that you can see such energetic vibes of patriotism — like the old woman dancing, waving American flags like a high school cheerleader — and also experience divisive rhetoric.
Close to the noon hour, when Romney was scheduled to speak, hundreds of supporters lined up before the metal detectors, waiting for their turn to get inside.
The speech itself, kicked off by Gov. Rick Snyder, was what you would have expected. In attendance were state representatives and senators along with Romney’s family and friends. The auditorium was packed, standing room only, with all 480 seats filled.
Romney spoke to the problems presented by “Obamacare,” “union bosses,” “big government” and outlined his solutions — which usually involved “more freedom.”
After the speech ended and the rhetoric had run dry, the sea of Romney supporters were greeted with a large black banner that read, “Mitt Romney said: ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt.’”
Holding the sign across the street from the auditorium were members of UAW Local 602, community activists, teachers and retirees.
The sign and their presence was to remind people of what Romney stands for and to highlight the success of the recovering auto industry by Obama, said Mike Huerta, benefit representative for UAW Local 602.
The sign and its bearers across the street drew harsh criticism from their counterparts across the aisle. A few people actually cheered that they wanted to see Detroit go bankrupt, laughing while they did it.
“You guys are where all my taxes go!” yelled one man leaving the event, calling the banner holders bullies and parasites.
A young woman holding the banner replied: “This is fact! Not opinion!”
More photos from Tuesday’s Romney visit are available at www.lansingcitypulse.com.