The following is live coverage of a rally today in West Chester Twp. for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The timeline will include speech highlights.
9:01 p.m. WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports concluding cheers are enthusiastically mixed. About half the crowd is chanting “U-S-A,” the other half is chanting “We want Mitt.”
8:56 p.m. “We’re going to win on Tuesday, but I’ll need your help,” Romney says as he concludes his speech. In total, Romney has spoken for about 25 minutes.
8:49 p.m. “I won’t just represent one party, I’ll represent one nation,” Romney says. “We’re four days away from a fresh start, four days away from a new beginning.”
“With the right leadership, America is coming roaring back,” he adds. “We are Americans, we can do anything. The only thing that stands between us and the best years we’ve ever know is a lack of leadership. But that’s why we have elections.”
8:45 p.m. “You know if the president were re-elected he would still be unable to work with the people in Congress. He’s ignored them; he’s attacked them,” Romney says. “Now, if — no, when — I’m elected president I’m going to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress.” He says he’ll seek out those who care more about the country than partisan politics.
8:41 p.m. “Accomplishing real change isn’t something I just talk about, it’s something I’ve done,” Romney says, adding that on his first day in office he’ll begin seeking greater energy independence.
8:38 p.m. “Unemployment is higher today than when he took office,” Romney said, slamming “Obamacare” moments before. Romney urges that President Obama isn’t capable of working across the aisle. “Unless we change,” Romney says, “we may be looking at another recession.”
8:37 p.m. “Paul Ryan is the best choice I’ve made since Ann Romney,” the presidential candidate says.
8:35 p.m. Mitt Romney takes the podium. “You’re sending a message tonight,” he says. He thanks his huge backing of Republican leadership.
“Your state is the one I’m counting on, by the way. This is the one we have to win,” Romney tells the crowd.
8:34 p.m. “This is a man who will turn around America,” Ann Romney says of her husband.
8:31 p.m. “We’re going to take responsibility and fix this mess in Washington,” Ryan says. A Miami University graduate, Ryan says Butler County “is a good place.” He then introduces Mitt and Ann Romney.
8:24 p.m. Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan takes the stage to AC/DC. “Thank you for waiting in line, thank you for coming here, thank you for knocking on doors and making phone calls and delivering your state (for) the next president of the United States, Mitt Romney,” he says. “You gonna help us win this thing?” he asks. The crowd yells, “Yes.”
8:19 p.m. U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., takes the stage. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have on the ballet this year,” he says. “It’s a team ready to bring America back.”
8:16 p.m. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman urges the crowd to vote early. “We’re in the fourth quarter … the game is tied … we’re in the red zone and we’ve got the momentum,” he said.
8:10 p.m. Ohio Gov. John Kasich takes the stage. “We as Americans recognize we have two paths to choose” he says. “We’ve seen what the last four years gives us,” adding that a larger and less efficient government is at the top of the list.
8:06 p.m. Ohio Lieutenant Gov. Mary Taylor takes the stage. “Are we ready to do everything we can in Ohio?” she asks an enthusiastic crowd. “They know their future is riding on four more days,” she says of recently overhearing her son talking with his friends about the forthcoming election.
8:03 p.m. Those at the rally say this likely the largest rally for the Republican party since the GOP convention this summer.
7:50 p.m. “The weather’s just like Florida, my refrigerator in Florida,” said Marco Rubio, a United States Senator from Florida, who joked with the Ohio crowd about frigid temperatures. Rubio spent the day campaigning with Josh Mandel, who is running for the United States Senate opposite Ohio incumbent and Democrat Sherrod Brown.
7:46 p.m. “Forward to what? … What does that mean?” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, referring to President Obama’s campaign slogan, “Forward.” Jindal is just one of many Republican leaders who’s stepped to the stage within the past few minutes to deliver short speeches to the West Chester crowd.
7:36 p.m. “The United States president was AWOL,” says former Republican presidential nominee and United States Senator John McCain, referring to President Obama’s handling of the attacks in Benghazi.
7:32 p.m. Bob McDonnell, the governor of Virginia, takes the stage and tells the crowd Tuesday’s election is a “serious” one, adding, “We need a job creator,” WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports.
7:22 p.m. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani is addressing the crowd, WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports. Guiliani says President Barack Obama’s tenure in office has been a “disaster” and he should resign due to the slow economic recovery.
7:03 p.m. Kid Rock has launched into “Born Free,” the title track from his most recent album, WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports.
6:53 p.m. The weather may slowly be turning into a factor at the rally. WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports its “getting darker and colder” in West Chester. Still, she said energy is growing as Romney’s stage time inches closer. “This crowd loves Kid Rock,” she added.
6:40 p.m. The DDN’s Jeremy Kelley reports Kid Rock is five songs into his set. Several politicians are expected to take the stage after the music is over.
A number of Dayton-area residents made their way to West Chester for the event Friday.
Retiree Eileen Menna of Huber Heights said she was excited to see Romney for the first time, adding that she likes him better than Obama both on economic and social-issue stances.
“I back him, and I want to show him that,” she said. “Romney’s had business experience. Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s never run anything or even had a full-time job until he was president.”
Menna said she is concerned that Obama’s health care policies will take away religious liberties.
Gretchen Franck of Centerville, a paralegal, focused mainly on economics.
“I am the middle class, and I don’t feel the middle class is getting a fair shake from the Obama administration,” she said. “He ran his first platform on the middle class, but for the past four years he’s done nothing to help me. … The more tax breaks they can give the middle class the more we’re going to pump into the economy.”
Kelley reports that Franck said she thinks Romney is very charismatic, and she likes all the attention Ohio is getting in this campaign, but for her it keeps coming back to economics.
“I’ve had to cut back on my spending the last four years. I don’t have any extra money to spend. I’m in my 40s and I’m trying to save for retirement. … I believe in the message (Romney and Ryan) are bringing.”
6:34 p.m. WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports Kid Rock took the stage to a recent hit, “All Summer Long,” changing some of the lyrics to reflect Southwest Ohio.
6 p.m. An hour and a half before the Romney-Ryan rally is to begin in West Chester, Jeremy Kelley of the Dayton Daily News reported that a crowd of thousands has already built up, sitting in the bleachers and standing around the stage.
Most are waiting to hear a final-weekend campaign message from Romney and Ryan before they split up for numerous events this weekend. They’ll be joined tonight by Speaker of the House John Boehner and several Republican governors and senators.
A much smaller group is staking out the first few rows in front of a separate stage 50 yards away from where Kid Rock will perform.
The crowd clapped along to songs by the Lakota West marching band, and filled the down time by chanting “Four More Days” instead of “Four More Years.”
The event began just after 6 p.m. with an opening prayer.
5:24 p.m. WHIO’s Yuna Lee spoke with West Chester fire officials who said 25,000 tickets have been handed out but tonight’s crowd may be even larger. She said many at the rally are supremely pleased with the weather — blue skies and dry.
4:06 p.m. WHIO’s Yuna Lee reports Lakota high school students are looking on as Kid Rock’s band begins its sound check. The Detroit rocker is expected to perform at tonight’s rally.
3:35 p.m. WHIO reporter Yuna Lee is inside the event and says there are at least 10 security checkpoints.
3 p.m. An updated list of notables attending with Mitt Romney at the rally has been released. Names: Senator Kelly Ayotte, Senator Kay Bailey-Hutchinson, Mr. Hector Barreto, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Speaker John Boehner, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Governor Sam Brownback, Governor Phil Bryant, Ms. Bay Buchanan, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Secretary Elaine Chao, Senator Norm Coleman, Mrs. Barbara Comstock, Congressman Artur Davis, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, Governor Dave Heineman, Governor Bobby Jindal, Treasurer Rosario Marin, Mrs. Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain, Governor Bob McDonnell, Mr. Derek Parra, Governor Rick Perry, Senator Rob Portman, Chairman Reince Priebus, Congresswoman Martha Roby, Dr. Ben Romney, Mr. Craig Romney, Mr. Josh Romney, Mr. Matt Romney, Mr. Tagg Romney, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Santorum, Congressman Aaron Schock, Governor John Sununu, Senator Jim Talent, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, Senator John Thune, Senator Pat Toomey and Governor Scott Walker.
2 p.m.: Final preparations at the rally site are getting underway.
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