MERCER COUNTY —
The tea party might never be a Mitt Romney party, but the Republican nominee for president earned a few mentions and cheers Saturday morning during the latest rally hosted by the Mercer County Christian Coalition.
Romney moved a few rungs up the tea party ladder when he picked U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, the conservative from Wisconsin, as his running mate earlier this summer. And this weekend, that support was evident on the courthouse lawn. A few wore Romney-Ryan T-shirts.
It’s quite a change from the last rally in April. By then Romney was the unofficial Republican candidate. His biggest competition, Rick Santorum, had dropped out days earlier.
Still, on that dreary day in April, the tea party talk in Mercer was focused on President Barack Obama.
There were no Romney yard signs. No T-shirts. No cheers.
But it was different this weekend.
Melanie Brewer, campaign manager for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, Butler, R-3rd District, offered a little help for those not too excited about Romney at the top of the ticket.
She compared picking a candidate to dreaming about Christmas gifts. Once Christmas morning comes, Brewer said, “you’re still grateful for what you got,” even if you didn’t receive everything off your list.
“We may have wanted Rick Santorum. We may have wanted XYZ candidate,” Brewer said. “But we have an excellent candidate in Mitt Romney. We have an excellent candidate in Vice President Paul Ryan.”
As speakers went to the stage, Ginny Richardson, chairwoman of the Mercer County Republican Committee, and the Rev. William Schafer, chairman of the Lawrence County Republican Committee, staffed a booth stocked with Romney-Ryan signs, buttons and T-shirts.
Richardson said the excitement for the team “has been building all summer long,” and “now, it’s building daily.”
At Republican headquarters, Richardson said every day there are more people in the door than the day before.
Saturday was David Rimer’s first tea party rally. The 61-year-old who lives in Fredonia is so ready for change he even begged for one minute at the microphone before the day’s main speaker, K. Carl Smith, took the stage.
Rimer’s message was short and simple. “We need to put Mitt Romney at the top.”
Afterward, asked what had brought him to the rally, he said, “I’m so frustrated.”
He doesn’t fashion himself a political person, and joked that his wife, who went out of town for the day, will be astounded to find out he attended, and spoke, during a tea party rally.
But Rimer said his wages are frozen. He’s earning less than he did 20 years ago. His insurance costs are going up. A gallon of gas costs $4.
“I’m on the verge of not being able to afford to live,” Rimer said. “All I’m doing is going backwards. I want more for my family.”
“I like Mitt Romney,” Rimer said. “I think he can be there and do what’s right.”
Had been cooler at April rally
MERCER COUNTY —
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