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Presidential candidate Mitt Romney finishes small town tour in Holland

“This is a defining time for this country. That’s a place where the president and I agree,” the Republican Presidential candidate said in Holland Tuesday night. Thousands of Romney supporters in shorts and sandals rallied on the shore of Lake Michigan at Holland State Park.

Romney’s 20-minute long speech focused on how important a strong American economy and military are to the rest of the world.

“American strength is the best ally peace has ever known. We must strike for a strong America,” Romney said.

Romney says the president’s health care overhaul is hurting small businesses. He says the economy is being dragged down by uncertainty about the federal debt. He says he worries that the United States is headed on the same path as Greece.

Romney also discredited Obama’s energy policies. He said he’d approve the Keystone Pipeline even if that meant “I had to build it myself.”

After Romney’s speech, Mary Winkle, a supporter from Allegan, said she’s excited that change could be around the corner.

"Americans can take care of themselves if you get out of our way. And that’s what we need to do: get people working again, get small businesses going, bring down the deficit, and we’ll be back on our feet,” Winkle said.

Romney hopes to win his native state in November. Winkle admits that’ll be tough. Michigan hasn’t voted for a Republican President since 1988.

But she says the two candidates present such a contrast that “it’s possible.”

Hudsonville resident Ruth Hoeksema sports a large Mitt Romney sticker on her t-shirt.

“Well…” Hoeksema pauses when I ask her why she supports Romney. “He’s not my first choice, but I’m going to vote for him because I’m not going to create a wedge and give the job to the incumbent,” Hoeksema said.

She doesn’t like President Obama’s new policy that will allow younger illegal immigrants with no criminal record to stay in the country. Hoeksema’s grandparents legally migrated from Holland - the country. She thinks it’s only fair that everyone follow the same rules.

She’d also like to see the smaller government and economic growth Romney promises.

About a mile away from the park, retired school teacher Manila Freeman lead about 50 protestors who were bused in for the event from Detroit.

“We’re all volunteers, so nobody has been paid. We wanted people to know Romney is not the candidate for America,” Freeman said.

Freeman, a retired Detroit Public Schools teacher, says she worries about her pension under a Romney administration. She says Romney doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes under the capital gains tax. She says he’s out of touch with normal Americans.

“He’s just not his father,” Freeman said, shaking her head in disgust. Romney was born in Michigan. His father was Governor of Michigan from 1963-1969.

Romney hopes to win over his native state. Michigan hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Enterprise Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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