Former Gov. Mitt Romney addressed a crowd of roughly 4,000 supporters and students Wednesday at the BankUnited Center (BUC) while standing alongside Congressman Connie Mack, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio.
Romney addressed the crowd in a state where the race, according to a report published in the Washington Post, is still close. Still, according to an article reported by The Miami Herald, the Republican presidential candidate holds a narrow lead in the state of Florida. With six days left before Election Day, his stop at the swing state could garner sufficient votes he needs to carry Florida.
His tour with Rubio, Bush and Mack, titled the “Victory Rally,” also included stops in Jacksonville and Tampa.
Marilyn Caserta, a senior at local high school Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the first speaker, Florida Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera, took the stage.
Caserta has known Rubio since she was 9, and has sung before many of his events, including his inauguration as senator in Washington, D.C.
“I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out I was asked to sing,” she said. “It was such an honor to be given the opportunity to sing the national anthem for Governor Romney and for everyone that came out to support the campaign.”
After Lopez-Cantera spoke, local congresswoman Anitere Flores, and later Congressmen Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart addressed the crowd alongside Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Mack, Bush and Rubio later fueled the crowd. Rubio introduced Romney to the stage.
Senior Alex Hurtado appreciated Rubio’s portion of the speech. She was able to speak to him after the event, and shake his and Romney’s hands.
“I thought all speakers were fantastic,” Hurtado said. “I thought Marco Rubio was incredible along with Romney. This is my second time hearing Romney speak; overall I think the rally was a success. They definitely energized the crowd and motivated everyone to vote.”
Romney spoke about the need for college students to find jobs after they graduate, and touched upon the relief efforts needed to help the victims in the Northeast suffering from the aftermath from Hurricane Sandy.
Though many criticized Romney’s decision to continue campaigning, UM political science professor Casey Klofstad believes everyone’s opinion is “driven by politics.”
“If you’re generally supportive of Romney you’ll say he needs to campaign, if you’re supportive of the president you’ll say he’s taking respect of the gravity of the situation,” he said. “But, on the other hand, the president really can’t be campaigning right now; he has to govern, whereas Romney is freer in a sense to go and campaign. At the end of the day, it’s a combination of what they can and cannot do, plus political reception.”
Romney also outlined his five-point plan to improve the economy by creating jobs.
He motivated the crowd with statements on the American character.
“It’s part of the American character to live for something bigger than ourselves,” Romney said.
The event marked the second time the presidential candidate visits campus. Romney was last at UM on Sept. 19, when Univision reporters Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas Romney and Obama for a broadcast on the Spanish station. Romney’s session with the journalists lasted 35 minutes, while Obama’s lasted one hour. The president has visited the University of Miami three times in the past eight months.
Though the speakers motivated students who attended the event, some students do not have such a positive outlook. Jordan Lewis, president of UM Young and College Democrats, believes that UM will lean toward the left side on Tuesday. He does not think the Republican rally was helpful for Romney’s campaign.
“Most students have already decided their vote,” he said. “This campus belongs to President Obama.”
Still, UM College Republicans member Lohena Cabrera believes the event helped stir enthusiasm.
“I think it went really well,” said Cabrera, who volunteered at the rally. “Everyone seemed really motivated and extremely moved by all the speaker’s words especially Senator Rubio and Governor Romney’s speech.”
Rudy Fernandez, vice president for government affairs at UM, believes that this helps enhance the University of Miami student experience.
“We feel that this adds a lot to being a University of Miami student, and hopefully it sends a very strong message that whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is very important to get involved in the democratic process, to vote, to learn about the issues and to get involved,” Fernandez said. “It is very unique that in a 10-month period, we have been able to host President Obama three times and Gov. Romney twice. I know no other institution in Florida can claim that they’ve been able to do that. It’s a very special experience for the whole university, especially for students.”