POWELL, Ohio — Saturday before dawn, thousands began finding their seats at the Village Green Park Amphitheatre in my small city of Powell, Ohio. The 8:30 a.m. rally with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would be the first time they would appear together in Ohio, and their last major rally before the RNC Convention in Tampa.
Downtown Powell is known for its few parking spaces and quaint, bedroom community feel. Just about a half-hour drive northwest of Columbus, Powell is one of the wealthiest communities in the state of Ohio and has a top-ranked school system. It is in the heavily Republican county of Delaware. My husband, Andrew Brenner, is our county‚??s State Representative. We were honored that Romney and Ryan would make our small city a national focus and part of such an important campaign at this perilous time in our nation‚??s history.
The aerial photos from the rally confirm: the park was overflowing with people. The couple standing behind me in line was from Florida, I saw neighbors and friends, and there were people who had never been to Powell previously. Beyond the park itself were thousands more onlookers, attempting to catch a glimpse from park tables and adjacent properties. The estimates range from 5,000-7,000 in attendance.
The crowd was intensely excited as Congressman Pat Tiberi, Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and Governor John Kasich pumped up the already electrified attendees. Paul Ryan made his connections to Ohio clear — having attended Miami University and enjoyed our state‚??s plentiful deer hunting opportunities. Mitt Romney commented that he only heard Ohioans so excited when the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines! Of course, that was a knock at his home state of Michigan and the ‚??team from up north,‚?Ě as we call them here in Ohio.
I‚??ve never heard Romney state as clearly as he did at this rally what he plans to do as president. He elaborated on a five point plan to invigorate the economy: energy independence; improving the education system for our children and our workers; taking advantage of trade globally to open new markets and export our goods, while stopping China‚??s cheating; cutting and capping federal spending, and getting on track to have a balanced budget; and, being the champion for small business to grow and create jobs.
Romney specifically stated that he wants to help women, who are more likely to start a small business, to have the tools needed to open and grow small businesses. He emphasized that he knows that jobs come from small businesses and his administration would make it easier to open and run a business in this country. For Powell especially, this is important as we have many solopreneurs and small businesses in our city who are struggling under the regulatory environment brought on by government bureaucracies.
Throughout Ohio, Romney‚??s message is applicable and vital. For those in the Appalachians who lack the educational opportunities to stop the cycle of government dependence, Romney‚??s plans for education would mean a better chance for their children. For the unemployed in northeast Ohio who used to work in manufacturing, but whose skills are not up-to-date for the technology sectors that are booming in Ohio, Romney‚??s plans would mean the opportunity to gain the necessary skills to fill an open job in the tech field. For the business owner who works.
Mandel led the crowd in the O-H-I- O cheer, familiar to Ohioans and a reminder of Obama‚??s botched attempt to spell ‚??OIHO‚?Ě in a recent photograph.
The Romney/Ryan platform is about creating opportunity, as we heard from the rally. Ohioans aren‚??t looking for a hand out — we‚??re looking for a hand up, and the Romney/Ryan platform will provide the opportunities that Ohioans need for their businesses, families and children. With this state in a virtual dead heat, if Romney can continue to focus on these important issues, he will win over the swing voters and carry Ohio on his way to the White House.