Republican Mitt Romney talks jobs and the economy from the campaign trail
ALBION – A crowd of more than 300 supporters, including students from nearby Albion College and skilled trades workers of all ages, gathered on the factory floor of caster and wheel manufacturer Caster Concepts to see former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speak as a part of his six-day bus tour beginning in Milford and ending in Novi.
Echoing the key points of his Feb. 24 address to members of the business community at a Detroit Economic Club luncheon, Romney discussed his plans to alleviate unemployment and the federal budget deficit while reminding voters to be involved in Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary.
As the speech ended and Romney signed autographs and greeted supporters, 73-year-old Mitchell Martz, of Parma, felt impressed with Romney following a firm handshake. “I was on the fence,” said Martz, who identified as a Democrat until recent weeks. “Mitt may have my vote.”
Not all of Romney’s supporters in the audience were elderly, however. Michael Ortiz, 23, of Albion, watched Romney from the crowded factory floor, sporting a workshop uniform with his name on it. Romney’s presence in the workplace was important to Ortiz, who said the candidate was able to address issues both nationally and locally. “I’m seeing it firsthand,” Ortiz said. Candidate Romney’s bus tour ended the day with an event in Royal Oak.
The demographic that attended Romney’s speech went hand-in-hand with the chosen location. Caster Concepts’ factory contains a variety of systems designed to aid workers in the manufacturing process, similar to the equipment that students in Washtenaw Community College’s Computer Numerical Control program are trained to use.
“It seems natural that the candidates would want to visit such facilities and talk about these skilled jobs due to the tremendous need,” said Ross Gordon, interim dean of Vocational Technology.
“It lends credibility to show they understand the skills shortage that American manufacturing is facing.”
After success in the Michigan Republican primary, Romney moved south to Ohio in the days preceding “Super Tuesday,” hosting a town hall-style meeting with supporters in a similar factory in Beavercreek, a city of 45,000 east of Dayton.
Among the attendees of the Beavercreek rally were current and former automobile workers, including a former Delphi Automotive employee who had the opportunity to ask Romney about his controversial position on labor unions and the bailout of General Motors.