In a simple white button-down shirt and a pair of jeans, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took the stage Thursday in Milford to address more then 500 tea party members from across southeast Michigan.
The event, held at Baker's in Milford, was sponsored by a coalition of several area tea party groups, including the Lakes Area Tea Party whose constituents are residents of White Lake, Milford, Highland and West Bloomfield. included Willow Run Tea Party Caucus, Brighton Tea Party, ReTakeOurGov and Tea Party Patriots of West Oakland County.
The crowd cheered as Mitt Romney entered the room, they "I'm Proud to Be and American" and dutifully recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The crowd ranged from kids as young as 5, to interested high school students and grandparents.
During the one hour event, Romney discussed his plan to reduce the national deficit and said, several times, that he would grant waivers to all 50 states excusing them form enacting the national healthcare plan enacted under President Barack Obama's tenure.
"It's time we get American back on track," Romney told the crowd. "(Obama) has this 'Pollyannish' view that you can take a business and put a lot more taxes on it, and they'll somehow just stay here... Over time they'll go somewhere else... I will point out (Obama's) policies made it harder for this economy to recover."
Romney also told the crowd he would lower everyone's taxes by 20 percent and would build the Keystone XL Pipeline extension.
The Keystone Pipeline is an oil pipeline that carries oil from Canada to the United States. A decision to build the extension project was delayed by Obama earlier this year. Romney said Thursday that as president he would seek out create and grow jobs in the energy sector as one way to help kick-start the economy.
Students get their first taste of politics
Brad Howe, 18, attended the event with his father, government teacher Brian Howe.
The teen, a Highland resident, said he was impressed with Romney and his speech Thursday.
"I thought it was good," Howe, a senior at Milford High School, said. "I thought he did well when speaking about the oil drilling issues, but I wanted to hear more about how he would handle the growing conflicts in Iran and Israel."
Brad Howe, who also saw candidate Rick Santorum speak in Novi last week, said he thought Romney came off as more presidential, "He just seemed more organized, more professional, like how you'd think of a stereotypical president."
The November election will be Howe's first time voting for president, an experience he said he's excited for, "The campaign has been eye-opening, seeing all of this for the first time. I can't really say how this elections' campaigns compare to previous presidential elections - I have nothing to compare it to."
Brian Howe, who also brought several students to the event, said he, too, was excited to hear Romney speak, and to share the experience with his students.
"It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican, I think these event are important for the students because it gets them involved in the process," he said. "I've had the opportunity to meet six presidents in my lifetime and I think it's important for these kids to get that same opportunity. I'm always telling them they need to do their research and make informed decisions when they to vote, this a great way to do that."
Victoria Morgan, 18, a White Lake resident, said she's a Ron Paul supporter and would like to see Romney announce Paul as his running mate for Vice President.
"I really like Ron Paul, I don't think he's as conservative as the other candidates," Morgan said. "I don't think he will get the nomination (for president) but I'm hoping he can run as vice president with Romney."
Morgan said this was her first political event and that she was excited to get the experience.
Lakeland student and White Lake resident Christa Carter, 18, agreed, "It's a once in a life time opportunity," she said of seeing a presidential candidate speak. "I figured it's something you've got to do when you have the option."