Romney arrives at Pittsburgh International Airport to greet supporters
Mitt Romney logged one more campaign trip to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, thanking election workers at a Green Tree call center.
The Republican presidential nominee was on the ground in Allegheny County just more than an hour. His campaign plane landed at Pittsburgh International Airport at 2:57 p.m. and returned to the runway at 4:15 p.m.
Although the call-center visit was closed to the public, hundreds of supporters cheered Romney outside the Atlantic Aviation terminal where he arrived from Cleveland. Many said they hoped for a public event but understood his tight schedule and campaign logistics.
“It's better to be out here than to watch it on television,” said Rian Ryzner , 50, of Jupiter, Fla., a part-time Western Pennsylvanian. He arrived at the airport minutes before Romney landed and stayed until the nominee's departure for Boston.
“I think that they have done a tremendous job to get in front of as many people as they possibly could at a time when they probably need to,” Ryzner said. He called the crowd at the airport “real individuals who wanted to make a point (of support), as late as it is.”
Police ordered supporters to gather at a parking garage across the street from the Atlantic terminal, outside a security perimeter monitored by the Secret Service. By 2:30 — 25 minutes before Romney's scheduled arrival — an estimated 300 people had assembled.
When the plane rolled up, it appeared many more were on hand. They chanted, hollered and applauded as Romney emerged from the campaign plane, bearing “Believe in America” on its side.
Romney walked across the tarmac to smile and wave several times at the crowd before a motorcade carried him away. Neither his campaign nor a GOP spokesman responded to a request for comment.
“I was expecting a rally but also just the opportunity to be in proximity of the next president of the United States,” said Brian Bartels, 51, of Mt. Washington. He left work early and traveled about an hour out of his way to visit the airport with his wife, Valerie Bartels, 46.
Tyler Clements, 20, said he wasn't at all disappointed.
“He has my full support. He's a busy man,” said Clements, a West Virginia University student who joined two friends to travel 90 minutes to see Romney. “You didn't get to hear a speech, but you can feel the energy.”
Joni Tierney, 48, of Cranberry let her two sons — Colin, 14, and Timmy, 12 — miss school to see Romney.
“I think this is historical. I want them to be part of it,” said Tierney, watching the tarmac from the parking garage.
She also wanted to “feel the energy of the crowd.”
For Joanne Condoluci, 62, of Tarentum, seeing Romney from a distance was “all I needed.” Drawn to his honesty, she wanted her presence to be a sign of support, she said.
“I wish there would've been more” supporters at the airport, Condoluci said. “I wish there would've been thousands.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.