Romney salutes RNC, addresses rally in Lakeland
LAKELAND - Mitt Romney got on to the business of being the Republican presidential nominee today by stumping for Florida votes at a rally before heading to Louisiana to tour damage cause by Hurricane Isaac. A day after accepting the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Romney joined running mate Paul Ryan and their wives at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. An estimated crowd of more than 2,000 attended in heat and humidity that led to a handful of people needing medical treatment. "We need every single vote in Florida. I plan on winning in Florida," Romney said in the speech, in which he saluted veterans and repeated several points from his acceptance address on Thursday."I need to have you do the work on Nov. 6 that gets me elected president of the United States," Romney said. "That has to happen here in Florida. For that to happen you're going to have to go out and find someone who voted for Barack Obama. … You find them and convince them to get on my team. We want to be held accountable for the promises we made last night." Ryan asked for prayers for victims of Friday morning's earthquake that hit the Philippines as well as those of Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall this week in Louisiana. Ryan also reiterated many of the points he offered in his vice presidential acceptance speech Wednesday, citing a "laundry list of broken promises" by the president. "Friends we have suffered from no shortage of words in the White House." Ryan said. "What is missing is real leadership in the White House."Both candidates praised the three-day RNC, which ended Thursday night at the Forum. "What a great convention, huh," Ryan said. "Florida, thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality. We couldn't have done it without you." Ryan noted that the hospitality was "warm in many ways," a reference to the region's summer heat and humidity. Romney also recognized Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rep. Dennis Ross, Secretary of Agriculture Adam Putnam and U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack, thanking them for their support in the state. They addressed the crowd beforehand. Among the supporters was Phil Maitino, who found out about the rally from friends Thursday night and "got up at 5 o'clock to get here." "I never thought in a million years we'd get to see the future president of the United States," said Maitino, who attended the rally with his wife. "I've got a young son; he's got a company of his own. … I care about small businesses, and I care about us retirees and we certainly don't want Obamacare." A few protesters attempted to interrupt Romney's speech. A news release from a group representing undocumented immigrants and the gay, bisexual and transgendered community claimed responsibility. A new campaign plane for Romney was on the tarmac labeled with his campaign slogan, "Believe in America." Another plane was waiting to take Ryan to Virginia. Romney traveled to Lafitte, La., where he joined Gov. Bobby Jindal on a tour of damage created by Isaac. Romney scrapped an appearance in Virginia to go to Louisiana. Romney's campaign has been considering a visit to Louisiana for several days. Isaac brought severe flooding to the state this week before it was downgraded to a tropical storm. Obama later announced he was also visiting Louisiana on Monday.
News Channel 8 reporter Adrienne Pedersen contributed to this report.