By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
DAYTONA BEACH - The loud engines roaring from motorcycles cruising down A1A at Biketoberfest had to compete with the raucous crowd that greeted Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Volusia County for the second time this year.
The former Massachusetts governor and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, stopped by the Bandshell for a recent rally where thousands of supporters, locals and visitors, showed their support for the ticket challenging President Barack Obama. Some wore shirts reading "Romney-Ryan" or "Goodbye Obama," others waved large American flags.
It was Gov. Romney's second time in the area this election, following a January appearance at Allstar Building Materials Ltd. in Ormond Beach when he was campaigning for the Republican nomination for president.
Most of those in attendance showed strong support for the Republican presidential candidate because they believed in his jobs plan - a five-part plan that Gov. Romney says involves taking advantage of the country's energy resources, opening new markets for trade and ending China's unfair trade practices, improving public schools and access to higher education, balancing the budget, and championing small business.
Don Kane, 73, a Daytona Beach resident and activist, said he wants to see the manufacturing jobs outsourced to China back in the U.S. so the country can become a "producer nation" once again, and not a "consumer nation."
Toni Wright, 60, who owns a local business that manufactures sun visors, said her business is dependent on tourism, which has declined in recent years due to increasing gas prices. She said she doesn't know how long her business could last if tourism continues to decline, and blames the downturn on the current administration's policies.
"I care about my business surviving," Ms. Wright said. "We can't stay open another four years if Obama gets re-elected."
After a five-song set from country musician John Rich, Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan took the stage and spoke from a podium with the slogan "We need a real recovery." Their speeches aimed to persuade the crowd why a vote for them would lead to a "real recovery," and they didn't need long to get their points across - collectively, they spoke for about 20 minutes.
Rep. Ryan said of all the words to describe Gov. Romney, what stands out to him are "businessman" and "leader," qualities he believes are needed in the next president.
"This is a man who started successful businesses and turned around struggling businesses - and by the way, being successful in business, that's a good thing," Rep. Ryan said. "At a time when America has a jobs crisis, wouldn't it be great to have a job creator in the White House?"
Gov. Romney began his speech by criticizing the Obama campaign for having "no agenda for the future." He also responded to criticism from President Obama over his shifts in positions from more conservative to more moderate, which the president called "Romnesia."
The Republican candidate said the president's re-election campaign has been "reduced to petty attacks and silly word games."
"The Obama campaign has become the incredible shrinking campaign," he said. "This is a big country with big opportunities and great challenges, and they keep on talking about smaller and smaller things. We have big ideas, bold ideas, (and) a strong agenda. We're going to get America working again."