After a spectacular Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney and running mate, Paul Ryan and their wives began their sprint to Election Day with a sendoff at the Lakeland Lindor Regional Airport. Almost 4,000 Romney/Ryan supporters showed up to give the candidates a rousing sendoff.

The event brought back memories of attending the speed skating venue at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. In both events, supporters alternately shouted “USA, USA” and “Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.” Romney/Ryan supporters included Floridians of all ages, from a six month old baby in a patriotic outfit, school age children, and a couple wearing large elephant ears, to many senior citizens.

The event began with short and snappy speeches by local politicians running for office. Ryan began his speech by asking the audience to remember the people in the Philippines. The Philippines was rocked by a 7.6 earthquake yesterday. He also spoke about the broken promises of the current administration and the wrong direction Obama continues to pursue.

Ryan also emphasized Romney’s strength as a business leader and a man of faith and integrity. He urged people to participate saying, “This is very clear. This is our moment.” Ann Romney spoke briefly, emphasizing that if voters give Romney a chance, he will not fail.

Mitt Romney began his speech by saying, “Last night you got to know me a little more. I was embarrassed from time to time with the nice things said.’’ Romney then emphasized the five-point plan shared in his acceptance speech last night. The five points include:

Taking advantage of the energy we have in the country — natural gas, oil, coal, wind, solar and nuclear.

Making sure the workforce and children have the skills they need — making American schools the best in the world.

Having trade that works for America — open up new markets in Latin America and also cracking down on countries that cheat.

Tackling the deficit and putting America on track to have a balanced budget.

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Championing small business — keeping their taxes down.

Romney urged the voters to “get out there and get their friends to vote.” He reminded supporters that Florida can be a very close election. Romney also paid tribute to the veterans in the audience by having them raise their hands and be recognized. Romney was headed to Louisiana to tour the damage caused by Hurricane Isaac with Gov. Bobby Jindal. As the audience waited in the humid 100-degree weather to board buses for the parking lot, they cheered the Romney plane as it soared toward Louisiana.

Reed Markham is a graduate of BYU and professor at Daytona State College.

Contact him at reed_markham@yahoo.com