Protesters Try to Drown Out Romney in Ohio

Protesters Try to Drown Out Romney in Ohio

By Erin McPike - June 18, 2012

TROY, Ohio -- Protesters and Democrats threw Mitt Romney off course more than once over the weekend when the presumptive GOP nominee's bus tour continued through Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Romney had little news to make on his six-state campaign swing, which is designed to convince voters in the Rust Belt and Midwest that he's the candidate thinking about the middle class while the president raises money from celebrities. Perhaps as a consequence of that low-key message, it was the opposition demonstrators who made their presence felt Saturday and Sunday.

Romney and his surrogates remained on message in this western Ohio town, but he spoke for only nine minutes at one event as protesters shouted relentlessly.

Gathered just outside the secured perimeter of his rallies in front of a hamburger joint in Troy on Sunday afternoon and earlier in the day at the town square in Newark (located in the center of the state) were about 20 people chanting, "Go home, Romney."

Calling them "disrupters" as she took the stage in Newark to introduce her husband, Ann Romney shouted to supporters’ cheers, "We can be just as loud about how much we love this country."

At the event here, one protester said they were canvassers from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) who volunteer regularly. They also shouted from the back of the event: "We are the 99 percent."

In response, David Axelrod tweeted Sunday afternoon, "I strongly condemn heckling along Mitt's route. Shouting folks down is their tactic, not ours. Let voters hear BOTH candidates & decide."

Romney’s tour was rerouted Saturday when more than 100 protesters and Obama surrogate Ed Rendell gathered at a Wawa gas station and convenience store in Quakertown, Pa., where the candidate’s bus was scheduled to stop. The tour instead rolled up to a different Wawa in town, and Romney joked that he had a surrogate at the other location. (Rendell has said that Pennsylvania is in play -- a positive sign for the GOP -- and has condemned some of the Obama campaign's attacks on Romney's business background.)

Democrats have a tour of their own preceding Romney’s, billed as "Middle Class Under the Bus Tour." It has hit cities before Romney arrives to offer a competing message.

Romney kicked off his five-day swing Friday in New Hampshire, part of an effort to reach conservative, rural voters in states Obama won in 2008 and which Romney struggled to win over in his primary battle against Rick Santorum.

The tour continues Monday in Wisconsin, and winds up Tuesday in Michigan. 

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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