GOP front-runner Mitt Romney made the first Pennsylvania stop of his campaign Thursday at the shuttered Allentown Metal Works - a grim backdrop of chain-link fence and thick weeds.
Romney spent several minutes bashing President Barack Obama for playing golf and raising money to fund his re-election bid rather than working harder to lower the nation's unemployment rate.
Romney's feisty remarks drew a smattering of applause from a few dozen onlookers. Across town, a waited in line to buy expensive vodka and meet movie star Dan Aykroyd during an . More publicity and advance notice went into the Aykroyd event, but the contrast showed some folks are more interested in comedy and top-shelf liquor than the 2012 presidential primary.
Romney's visit did attract admirers.
"I really like him," said Molly McGuire Leiberman of Bethlehem. "Even though I also like [Michelle] Bachmann a lot, I think [Romney] has more experience and a very good chance of securing the nomination."
Tim Ramos of Allentown shrugged and said Romney's remarks were merely "all right." He supports former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
"I'm big on character and integrity," said Ramos.
Romney took a few questions from reporters but spent little time posing for photos with supporters or signing autographs before hurrying off to a fund-raising event in Philadelphia. Obama is also in Philadelphia for a campaign fundraiser today.
The former Massachusetts governor touted his private-sector experience, saying he "knows why jobs leave and how they come."
Romney said Obama is "out of his depth when it comes to getting the economy going."
He said priorities in Washington, D.C., should be cutting spending and passing a balanced budget amendment.
A reporter asked how voters can be sure the economy will improve and joblessness decline under a Romney presidency.
"I would spend every waking moment doing whatever I can to get Americans back to work," Romney answered.
Romney called the Allentown Metal Works a symbol of Obama's failure. Obama visited the business in 2009 to tout his stimulus plan. The company, laden with debt, closed in January of this year.
One onlooker said he stopped by out of curiosity but "doesn't really vote." After Romney left in a red Chevy SUV, a woman was heard saying, "He'll never be president as long as I'm a Republican" - but she declined to explain her loud remark or identify herself.
The Morning Call's coverage of Romney's visit includes comments from a local political science professor, who said the candidate is a moderate who may fare well among Pennsylvania voters.