People from all over the Tampa Bay area trickled in to Pioneer Park on Monday afternoon, slowly filling the grassy bandstand area to see Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The warm sun did not deter people from camping on chairs to get a front row seat for the rally.
Dunedin's Jackie Nigro, 65, will cast her first vote in a presidential election this year. Nigro grew up in England and spent a career in Germany as a NATO civil servant. Just last year, she became an American citizen. She was ready in the front row to hear Romney speak.
"I decided I had chosen to live in America for the rest of my life," Nigro said. "I fully investigated the Constitution and the rights of the people. This is the choice I made to live here."
Another first-time presidential election voter, 21-year-old Joseph Molmar of Holiday, said he did research on all four Republican presidential candidates.
"I liked a lot of what Romney was saying. I agree with a lot of his positions," Molmar said.
At age 14 in 1968, Brent Narog journeyed to hear former Michigan Gov. George Romney speak at a presidential campaign rally. Narog, of Pinellas Park, wore the campaign button from that election. He believes Mitt Romney understands how to run businesses and improve the economy, he said.
Betsi Bergess of St. Petersburg supported Romney for his leadership skills.
Romney "is a true leader who understands the economy," Bergess said. "We need a leader that will lead us out of this anti-business environment."
Others showed up to protest Romney's views and actions. Dunedin's Don Davis said he is against everything Romney represents.
"Anyone who has a silver spoon in their mouth ... I do not believe in them," Davis said.
Tampa's Karel Soscra, who is a member of Occupy Tampa, said he was protesting Romney because he is a Wall Street candidate.