I went to Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign stop at Manassas on August 11, 2012. I had never gone to one of these before so I had no idea what to expect. The ticket gave the gates open time as 2:45 so I timed it so I’d be there about an hour early. I had never been to this part of Manassas before. When I neared the area I was shocked by the size of the crowd. Parking was adequate. I parked in a vertical garage. I didn’t find any parking spots until I reached the incline leading to the lot’s roof.
I followed the crowd to a line that circled a couple of blocks. Manassas is a racially diverse city. My unscientific estimate is the crowd was about 95% white with people from Asia or of Asian extraction making up most of the non-whites in the crowd.
The gaggles of people in the line had conversations that were primarily anti-President Obama and pro-Representative Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice for his running mate. At a corner there was someone holding an Obama-Biden sign and a photographer taking pictures of him. Someone mentioned the fact the photographer was paying all his attention to the man with the Obama-Biden sign while ignoring the long line of Romney supporters. A short time later a couple of other people with Obama-Biden signs joined the other man with the Obama-Biden sign. The line kept moving. One African-American gentleman raised his hand and shouted his support for President Barack Obama as he made his way to his car. The car was a large sedan. Someone in the line remarked it was a nice car. A man in the line muttered an uncalled for remark insinuating the car was purchased with drug money. Personal guess the man with the sedan seemed to be someone who lived or worked in the area and upon seeing the crowd voiced his opposition. A group of about four people who were wearing President Obama buttons walked in the street between two lines.
Crowd control, as opposed to traffic control, was non-existent for much of the route. I’d walked a couple of blocks before I came across two law enforcement officers. There was an African-American family with a young daughter and a baby in a stroller who were sporting President Obama buttons. A pro-life woman went up to them and passionately talked to them about how abortion and Presidents Obama’s abortion policy resulted in an inordinate number of African-American babies being aborted. This was in front of a Cajun restaurant. At one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables was a middle aged couple who were wearing President Obama buttons, presumably to show silent opposition to the crowd. A sign truck was driving around the area. The sign instructed people to, “Ignore the Liberal Media.” Someone had a makeshift sign which read, “Just because the government is in my business doesn’t mean you built my business.” Along the route there was a law office that specialized in Immigration law. The sign caught the attention of some of those in the line and the conversation moved to immigration policy. At the final turn, on adjacent sides of the street were Pro and Anti-Obama protestors. At one point the Pro-Obama group shouted “4 more years”. The Anti-Obama protestors retorted “4 more months”. The crowd joined the “4 more months” chant. Someone had a makeshift sign that read, “Time for 4 R & R”. The Rs stood for Romney & Ryan.
Past the ticket checkpoint there were two jumbotrons. Off to the side there was a water mist area. Then there was the security checkpoint. That involved walking through a metal detector. There was law enforcement watching from at least two rooftops. Visible security was light, I only saw one of the men with the sunglasses, and that was when I was leaving. He seemed more involved in crowd control.
I was way back with an obstructed view of the speakers. A number of Republican politicians gave warm up speeches. A couple of times I could hear a heckler, who was outside the ticket area. I couldn’t make out what the heckler was saying and I don’t know if he stopped on his own or was stopped by security. Then Governor Romney gave his speech. The speech was short. Among the themes he touched on were energy, education, trade, cutting the spending & the deficit, and championing small business. Governor Romney then brought up President Obama’s statement; “If you’ve got a business you didn’t build that somebody else made that happen.” He said if a young person makes the honor roll chances are the student took a bus to school, but the bus driver shouldn’t get credit for the honor roll. He went on to say if someone works hard and gets a promotion and they drive to work the DMV shouldn’t get the credit for the promotion.
I have no idea how many people attended this campaign stop. Ashburn Today, a local newspaper, gave the estimate of President Obama’s August 2nd rally in Leesburg as 3,200.