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Published: Thursday, 7/19/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Romney's Toledo fund-raiser attracts pickets

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Gus Nickolas of Canton, center, joins the crowd of 35 protesters outside the Toledo Club, where a fund-raiser was held for Mitt Romney. Gus Nickolas of Canton, center, joins the crowd of 35 protesters outside the Toledo Club, where a fund-raiser was held for Mitt Romney.
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Dozens of people shelled out at least $10,000 to meet and pose for pictures with presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney at the Toledo Club while a crowd of President Obama's supporters chanted and marched outside the building.

Many of the 35 protesters said it was ironic that Mr. Romney would come to northwest Ohio, because they believe his policies would harm working-class families in the Toledo area.

"I am a United Auto Worker, and I am here to support President Obama and show my disappointment in the decisions Romney was making during the crisis, saying we could go bankrupt," said Monroe resident Tammy Van Riper. "If that happened, a lot of us would be in jeopardy right now, and a lot of middle-class families would be in trouble."

The protesters chanted "Outsource Romney" and "Go home Romney" while a plane overhead pulled a banner that read "Tricky Mitt: What are you hiding?"

Many carried signs demanding that Mr. Romney release his income tax returns.

PHOTO GALLERY: Protesters gather outside The Toledo Club

Mr. Romney has announced that he will not release tax returns beyond 2010 and 2011 -- breaking from a bipartisan tradition of presidential nominees stretching back more than four decades.

Marcia Young, who lives in Toledo and is employed at Chrysler Group LLC's Toledo Assembly complex, told the crowd of protesters that she would be out of work if President Obama's auto-industry bailout had not occurred. "President Obama saved Toledo, as far as I'm concerned," she said.

The presumptive Republican presidential candidate's fund-raising luncheon, which was closed to the media and the public, appeared to attract between a dozen and 25 people, about half of whom drove vehicles with Michigan license plates.

Bob Reichert, a former Lucas County GOP chairman, attended the preluncheon inside the Toledo Club with Mr. Romney.

"I talked to him a little bit," Mr. Reichert said. "He seems real nice, real positive. Obviously, I think he is on the right track and a lot of us are nervous with the direction the country is on and we think he can make it go in the right direction."

Mr. Reichert said about 60 people attended the preluncheon event, which included a speech by Mr. Romney, some one-on-one time with the candidate, and then a picture. He said $10,000 was the requested donation for that, but having lunch afterward was more.

The Romney campaign did not respond to questions about how much money was raised nor how many people attended the Romney luncheon events.

Earlier in the day, Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz and Ken Lortz, director of the United Auto Workers for Ohio and Indiana, who are both supporting President Obama, held a news conference blasting Mr. Romney.

"I think he is lying about his involvement with Bain Capital," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said after the news conference. "I think that is one of the reasons he doesn't want to release his tax returns."

He added: "Without exaggeration, he has been a pioneer in outsourcing."

Mr. Lortz lauded the President for rescuing the auto industry.

"Mitt Romney, meanwhile, advocated that we let Detroit go bankrupt -- a move that would have devastated the U.S. auto industry and the one in eight Ohio jobs that depend on it," he said. "The auto industry lost 400,000 jobs in the 2008 bankruptcy. Even President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers said that doing nothing, as Mitt Romney advocated, would mean more than 1 million jobs lost."

Jon Stainbrook, the Lucas County Republican Party chairman, said both events were a boost for the GOP cause.

"The fund-raiser and the event [in Bowling Green] was just a fantastic day for Republicans in northwest Ohio. Not only do we get the positive national exposure of having our candidate in the area for two major events, but we raised a significant amount of money so we can continue to get our positive message out," Mr. Stainbrook said.

Staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this report.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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