PORT ST. LUCIE —After introductions by his wife, U.S. Rep. Allen West and state Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi, Mitt Romney pumped up more than 10,000 supporters in Tradition Square Sunday afternoon.
Romney told the crowd of between 10,000 and 15,000 people that he 'enjoyed himself' at last week's debate with President Barack Obama.
He also told the crowd that he wants to take Florida's model of how the state grades schools and take it national.
After his speech, Romney stopped by the Tin Fish, a Tradition restaurant, to grab a bite to eat before heading on his way.
It was a hot and humid afternoon when Romney arrived at Tradition Square shortly before 3 p.m. after landing at Palm Beach International Airport around 2 p.m.
He began speaking shortly after 3 p.m. during a light drizzle that cooled the temperatures a bit. During the day, at least a dozen people had to be taken out of the area on stretchers by St. Lucie County Fire District crews because of the heat.
U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Palm Beach Gardens, arrived at Tradition about 2:15 p.m. to a crowd shouting "West, West!"
Romney's wife, Ann, also spoke, as did Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and state Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi.
The crowd about 2:20 p.m. was led in a Hebrew prayer followed by the pledge of allegiance. Alana Ferraro, a Port St. Lucie High School graduate who is attending Florida Gulf Coast university, sang the national anthem, with hundreds singing along.
Negron took the microphone before Romney arrived, saying "Romney has to win Florida, and we're all going to make that happen."
Residents came from across the Treasure Coast and beyond to hear the candidate they support to be the next president.
Trudy Ruddy, 81, of Green Acres in Palm Beach County, said she came to see Romney speak because of her family.
“I came here because I have five grandsons and I like what Romney has to offer them: a future. I want my grandchildren to have a life in which they are not saddled with debt and no jobs,” Ruddy said.
Teresa Cabal, 50, of Miami, said today is her 50th birthday and what better company could she spend the day with than “the future president. I’m so emotional to be here. There is so much motivation.”
Mary Waterman, 57, Palm Bay, said “I think Mitt is going to be our next president, and it’s part of my bucket list to see the president before I die. Mitt is everything Obama isn’t, and that’s what our country needs. My son is in the Air Force and Obama has cut the military’s budget. I’m here for my son, too.”
Kathy Farrell, of Port St. Lucie, said she arrived at Tradition Square about 12:15 p.m.
“I’m sweating, but I’m excited. Romney is the only one of the two not running a dirty campaign. He is the change the U.S. needs.”
Roger Godin, Stuart, said “I’ve lived all over the world as an executive chef at major hotels, and I came back to America to this mess Obama left us. Romney is going to change this. We need a real president who can speak without a prompter.”
This story will be updated.