Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took the stage around noon on Saturday to a roaring applause with the backdrop of a tranquil Tampa Bay behind him.
The rally in Oldsmar’s R. E. Olds Park was among the campaign's recent push in the battleground state of Florida. Ann Romney appeared in Largo last week. President Barack Obama will be in the Tampa area next week.
Ryan came out strong, wasting no time highlighting what he called President Barack Obama’s failed economic plan. “We don’t need sugar high economics, we need economic growth,” Ryan said to the crowd.
He told the crowd the election would chose what kind of country they would have and what kind of people they would become. “And the question is 'do we want four more year of the same?'" Ryan said.
“Do we want to go down the path of debt and decline or do we want to snap out of it and get this country back on track by electing Mitt Romney the next President of the United States?” he added.
Ryan’s comments were preceded by a "Who’s Who" of the Florida Republican Party, including Congressman Bill Young, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Congressman Gus Bilirakis and Attorney General Pam Bondi.
The speakers emphasized the importance of Tampa Bay’s voice in the election. Early voting begins in 17 days.
"We’re going to win Florida because of all you right here today," Bondi told the roaring crowd calling Ryan "a man of great integrity and intelligence."
"Not only does he understand the jobs and economy..." Bondi said. "But he understands our budget."
The budget is what brought out spectators like Kevin Hanson, a married father of three with one on the way.
Hanson, a Westchase resident, said he has been following Ryan for a year on Facebook.
"I understand what the budget is all about and how our entitlement spending has skyrocketed, we need to reign that in,” said Hanson, a federal government employee.
“I’m not saying entitlements are bad some are needed but spend that money wisely, manage it wisely so we can afford a better America,” he said.
Ryan spent much of his time on stage speaking close to the heart of retirees highlighting what he considered flaws in Obamacare.
“You plan your retirement based on your income,” Ryan said. “You have a budget and it’s based on dollars and when they undermine the value of our dollar it wipes out our standard of living.”
"Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for Obamacare," said Ryan, whose mother Betty was in attendance. "People like my mom organized their retirement based on their income.”
Rally-goer Diane Gale, 59, echoed Ryan's sentiments.
"I think they (Romney/Ryan) have my well being at heart as a disabled person," said Gale, a Palm Harbor resident. "Obama care is just disastrous."
Kurt Irmischer, 72, of Clearwater agreed.
"I believe that this is the most important election in my lifetime," Irmischer said. "Obama's policies have failed us miserably... Internationally, his soft love policies are coming back to haunt us."
Ryan used his time on stage to assure the crowd his ticket had a plan for America touting Mitt Romey's business acumen and his understanding of the budget.
"Look what the man has done in business," he said about Romney. "(He's) created tens of thousands of jobs and started successful businesses we all know today."
Ryan said the duo have a plan for economy and job growth and would work to remedy the country's reliance on foreign oil.
"We've got energy in this country let’s use this energy in this country... coal, gas, renewable, all of the above," he said.
Both Ryan and Romney's families were highlighted during the rally. Large video screens played a montage of Romney and his wife Ann talking about their years together. Ryan approached the stage with his wife, Janna.
Dunedin resident Germaine Bolanos said it's those family values that drew her to the Republican party.
As a Latino she said the group's values align more with the Republican Party despite public opinion.
“I don’t think Latins are the minority (in the Republican party,) I think the Democrats are playing it that way,” said Bolanos, 33, who works in human resources.
“When you think about the Latin community’s values… working hard, family, religion, they align with Republicans,” said Bolanos who is married with two children. “Not this party where everything goes.”
Spectators like Vicki Angerame, 30 and Lindsey Johnson, 26, both teachers from Sarasota braved the heat and the lack of shade to put actions behind their words.
“As young women we feel it’s really important for us to be here,” said Angerame. “It’s about responsibility, being responsible for yourself and family values. "We try to always instill those values in our kids.”
Duty. Honor. Country. Service. Those were words Ryan used to describe his running mate before painting a narrative of America with words from the Declaration of Independence.
"Lets never forget America is an idea, it’s the only country founded on an idea," Ryan said. "Our rights are from nature and nature's God, not government."
"Floridians, we can do this," he added. "With your help, together we can do this."