Romney rallies Wisconsin faithful
WEST ALLIS, Wis. — Four days before the presidential election, with 10 Wisconsin electoral votes up for grabs, Mitt Romney spent Friday morning at State Fair Park rallying the faithful to make one last Badger blitz to get Republicans to the polls.
“We are four days away from a fresh start,” Romney said. “Four days away from the first day of a new beginning. My conviction that better days are ahead is not based on promises and hollow rhetoric but solid plans and proven results.”
Romney asked people in a state battered for weeks by an endless slew of campaign ads to put them aside.
“Look beyond the speeches and the attacks and the ads,” he said. “Look to the record, to the accomplishments and failures, and the judgment. ... The same course we have been on will not lead to a better destination.”
Romney’s appearance came three hours after the release of a federal jobs report that showed hiring was stronger the last two months than expected. With a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, the highest of any incumbent at election time since Franklin Roosevelt, it’s unclear what affect the better-than-expected jobs report will have on the election.
Wauwatosa, Wis., resident Susanne Espinosa, 35 — attending the rally with her husband, Ernesto, and their six kids, including 8-week-old Samuel — said the jobs report was “bull crap.”
“Everybody knows somebody unemployed for a long time who can’t find a job,” she said. “My brother’s working at a box factory for $8 an hour, and he’s got a master’s degree.”
Espinosa’s husband is in dental school and while their financial future is looking bright, she is keeping an eye on the potential tax bill, she said.
“Once he starts making money we don’t want to be taxed at a ridiculous rate,” she said.
About 2,500 people waited up to 90 minutes to get into the rally, with hundreds more in an outside holding area.
Moneen McKenna, 75, a lifelong Republican and lifelong Wisconsin resident from Mukwonago, west of Milwaukee, said the jobs report wasn’t going to help [President Barack} Obama “at this stage in the game.”
“I think we’re sick and tired of how Obama is taking us down the wrong path,” she said. “At my age, I feel sorry for my grandkids, all my little grandkids.”
Wearing a cheesehead hat with a Romney/Ryan logo painted on the side, Dave Dorner, 63, of Glendale, Wis. proclaimed Obama a total failure.
“Our current president is taking the country in the wrong direction in just about every way – his morality, his reckless spending,” he said. “What we need is for the government to get out of the way.”
A variety of polls show that Obama and Romney are either in a dead heat in Wisconsin or that Obama has a slight lead. A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t carried the state since 1984.
Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is from Janesville, Wis., however, and the state’s GOP is energized following an unsuccessful recall effort last spring for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“I’ve been at a couple of different rallies,” said Lindsay Foster, 27, of Whitefish Bay, Wis. “All of Wisconsin is really excited to get this done on Tuesday.”
Romney campaign volunteer Dan Kuligowski, 65, of Milwaukee, said he’s gotten a good reception from Wisconsin voters while working the phone banks.
“Obama had his chance — he showed he can’t go any place,” Kuligowski said. “Mitt Romney has real ideas. I have confidence he can change the country around.”
A variety of speakers preceding Romney — including Walker, former Green Bay Packer Bart Starr and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a Kenosha, Wis., native — cast Wisconsin as the possible Florida of 2000, where only 573 votes decided the election for President George W. Bush.
“Wisconsin, are you ready to finish the job on Tuesday?” asked Priebus to a roaring crowd. “Wisconsin has the opportunity to write the last chapter, to finish the job, to light the pathway for liberty and freedom.”
Obama is expected at a Milwaukee rally on Saturday and again on Monday, bringing Bruce Springsteen with him for a three-state flyover.
Wisconsin voters may not be dancing to Springsteen on Tuesday, predicted Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish. “This party today will be nothing like how we dance in Wisconsin on election night,” she said.