Candidates unloved in FL town hit by foreclosures

By Tamara Lush

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Ruggieri, who also volunteers as a nurse at a free medical clinic with 200 people on its waiting list, said she won't vote for Romney.

"I'm mad that he blamed Obama for this," she said.

Ruggieri doesn't see the housing crisis as any one politician's or party's fault, although she does have some choice words for the banks. But she's one of the lucky ones in Lehigh Acres: She and her husband bought a foreclosed home for $33,000 in 2009, once worth $211,000.

Daniel Bozarth, who rents a home a few streets away from where Romney stood, applauded his remarks. The 26-year-old, who is collecting $160 a week in unemployment after losing his job repairing motorcycles and ATVs, also doesn't blame Obama. He also likes that Romney made millions during his career.

"If we were to have someone like that, that's what we need," Bozarth said. "We need someone to get us a lot of jobs. I think we've hit rock bottom."

Another neighbor, Michelle Wheeler, a 44-year-old staunch Obama supporter, refused to attend Romney's event.

"This is not a situation that can get fixed in four years," said Wheeler, who was laid off from her job at State Farm insurance after injuring her knee. Without health insurance, she can't get surgery. Without surgery, she can't walk much or work.

She is angry that Republicans, and some Democrats, haven't supported Obama's ideas.

"I blame anyone who is opposing him," Wheeler said. "Just work with the president."

Across town at Joe's Cafe, owner Joe Golio shook his head when asked whether any Republican candidates can help Lehigh Acres. Business has been tough the last four years and he can't afford to move. His home, worth $250,000 four years ago, is now valued at $67,000, he said.

His son, James, waits tables at the restaurant. His home is worth $27,000 and he owes $117,000 on the mortgage.

Neither man blames Obama. But neither really wants him to stay in office. And they aren't sure any of the GOP candidates would be any better.

"They're all cowards," James Golio said.

Added his father: "I don't like to listen to politicians. You hear the same thing from everyone. They're short on detail. I just want the truth, whatever it is."

Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tamaralush

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