On Saturday, supporters of Mitt Romney and District 2 incumbent Congressman Steve Southerland came out for a rally on the steps of the Florida Capitol. The event, organized by the group Florida Women for Romney, also attracted protesters who criticized Romney’s and Southerland’s records on women’s issues.
Gail Hogan, who lives in Tallahassee, was one of about 150 people on the Capitol steps. She waved a sign that said "Women for Romney."
“I like everything about him. I like that he is a Christian man. I like that he is for businesses, he’s for women, he’s for our country, just everything about him," she said.
A line-up of pro-Romney speakers kept the crowd energized for about an hour and a half. One of them was former Florida Democratic Party executive director Barney Bishop, who co-founded the group Democrats for Romney. He said President Obama hasn’t done enough to create jobs.
“Floridians are beginning to understand that we need a President who has been in the private sector and has actually created jobs," he said, "because that’s what we all know we need to get out of this terrible economic mess.”
The crowd joined in singing patriotic songs between speeches. And it all led up to a campaign appearance by first-term U.S. Congressman Steve Southerland. He’s hoping to keep his seat by defeating former longtime Democratic state lawmaker Al Lawson.
“I know that if you want to get anything great accomplished, you gotta have a team a women," he told the crowd, to applause.
Southerland said he couldn’t have done anything great in his life without strong women like his wife and his mother.
“I know the statistics are very difficult to swallow from the people who are here protesting today. But I know that I have 14 full-time staff members. Nine of them are women," he said.
As he spoke, protesters organized by the Democratic Party of Florida stood behind him holding signs with slogans like “Southerland Too Extreme For Women.” Anne Allen, who lives in Leon County, was one of them.
“I’m very concerned as a woman, an older woman in her—just turned 60—that he is against, to me, so many women’s issues. He voted against fair pay for women. Just, what he represents, is just against women’s best interest," she said.
Organizers asked the people at the rally to make phone calls and knock on doors in the last couple of weeks before the election.