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Rick Santorum Greeted by Supporters, Protesters in Cuyahoga Falls

The main themes of his speech were the economy and health care.

Rick Santorum stuck to familiar themes Monday night in Cuyahoga Falls, choosing to play up his Rust Belt roots on the eve of the Ohio primary.

The GOP presidential hopeful picked this suburban northeast Ohio city for his last campaign stop before voting begins Tuesday morning. He’s been out-spent in the state, he told the group, but , he and opponent Mitt Romney are practically even.

“It’s gut check time,” Santorum said. “Who wants it the most?”

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is supporting Santorum, set the tone when introducing the former Pennsylvania senator, focusing on his steep climb up the polls.

DeWine called Romney the “establishment candidate.”

“But Rick Santorum is the people’s candidate,” DeWine said to cheers.

Inside the pavilion, the message was met with loud approval. The crowd of about 250 cheered his plans to eliminate taxes on manufacturing companies, his allusions to religion and his strikes on President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan.

“We like what he stands for,” JoAnn Arambasick, of Nelson, said before the speech. Arambasick called Santorum a “middle-class, good old-fashioned American.”

Other fans gave similar reasons for supporting Santorum: He’s conservative. He's religious. He’s sincere. He speaks his mind.

“He stands for our own beliefs,” said Xinia Tobias, of Akron.

Outside the rally, protesters stood with fans who couldn’t get inside the packed pavilion. The protesters held signs denouncing Santorum’s policies on gay rights and women’s issues, topics the candidate did not address in the evening’s speech.

Shane May, who has recently found himself at the , was one of the protesters who decided to come to the rally.

The Akron resident said he had heard Santorum wants to nullify same-sex marriages — and he doesn’t want to spend his first year as a newlywed worried that status could be taken away.

Amber O’Shea, of Cuyahoga Falls, another protester, came out to support equality in marriage for gay couples.

“For some people, it’s a privilege, not a right,” she said.

Santorum made no mention of the protesters and stayed away from topics that have attracted controversy in recent weeks. He instead kept the focus on the economy and healthcare, calling himself a strong “foil” to Obama’s  stances.

Jack Kelly March 06, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Actually, Russell, the article does NOT say what you claim it does. It clearly states: "Inside the Falls River Square pavilion....The crowd of about 250 cheered his plans..." Key words here are "inside" and "about". Then, it later states: "Outside the rally, protesters stood with fans who couldn’t get inside the packed pavilion." Here, it states that there were also fans, outside of the rally, who couldn't get inside the packed pavilion. So, your confusion came from you not reading the article properly.
John Meola March 07, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Let's wait and see what the Supreme Court has to say about our state constitutional amendment. The Ninth Circuit's ruling against Prop. 8 in California -- which declared the statute violated the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment -- was written in such a way that even the most conservative members of the court would have a hard time overturning.
John Meola March 07, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Wonder why Santorum avoided gay-bashing and attacking what he obviously thinks are "loose women"? I mean, that's red meat for his base.
Paxton Crenshaw March 07, 2012 at 01:02 AM
He's probably trying to win over the moderate Republicans who also like bashing gays, but are slightly more tolerant of those "loose women". Just slightly.
Larry Kinnan March 07, 2012 at 12:24 PM
John Meola - The 9th Circuit Court has the dubious honor of having most of their rulings overturned by the Supreme Court. Their liberal slant is well known.

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