with video: Republicans celebrate opening of Mitt Romney's Ann Arbor campaign office amid protest
Republicans celebrated the opening of an Ann Arbor campaign office for United States presidential candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday afternoon.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was on hand for the event at the Ann Arbor Victory Center, 4695 Washtenaw Ave., just east of the city limits between Carpenter Road and Golfside Drive.
Addressing a crowd of several dozen cheering supporters, Haley lobbed criticisms at Democratic President Barack Obama.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Haley also was expected to travel to the state capital to join Gov. Rick Snyder in hosting a “Built By Us” small business roundtable discussion at the Romney campaign's Lansing office.
Also on hand for the Ann Arbor event were several Republican lawmakers, including state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and state Reps. Mark Ouimet and Kurt Heise.
"Gov. Romney is exactly what our country needs right now," Ouimet said. "We're at a crossroads, and Gov. Romney has both the experience and the vision for our country, and this is about as critical or crucial a presidential election as we've had in my lifetime."
Romney might not be on the most friendly turf in Washtenaw County, though. GOP presidential candidate John McCain pulled just 28.8 percent of the vote here in 2008. However, 48.3 percent of Washtenaw County voters went with Snyder for governor in 2010.
State GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak said he's hoping Michigan voters will choose a Republican for president for the first time since 1988.
A group of about a dozen people marched in protest outside the Romney campaign office during Tuesday's event. Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer also issued a statement criticizing Haley's visit, calling Romney desperate to distract voters from his record on job creation in Massachusetts, as well as his opposition to the auto bailout.
"It was Mitt Romney who said, 'Let Detroit go bankrupt,' " Brewer said. "He must have liked what he heard from Nikki Haley, who called it 'a terrible mistake' when she was running for governor."
Brewer said both Romney and Haley were wrong about the auto bailout, citing recent news about the resurgence of the American auto industry and Michigan's recovery outpacing the rest of the country. Several Democrats, including state Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, used Haley's visit on Tuesday to call into question Romney's business record.
"When your private sector record at Bain Capital — once the centerpiece of your campaign — looks more like a liability amid discussions of outsourcing, laid-off American workers, devastated communities and retroactive retirement, it’s probably smart to change the subject," state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton said in a statement.
Haley offered a different view of Romney.
"We have someone who has fixed everything he's ever touched," she said. "When he was in business, he took broken businesses and he made them successful. When he took on the Olympics, he turned it around and made it a source of pride for our country. And then when he became governor, he reduced taxes with a 90 percent Democrat Legislature."