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Romney bus visits minus a candidate
Area residents gather around a campaign bus for presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney at the Martinsville-Henry County Republican Party headquarters on U.S. 220 South on Friday. Romney was not on the bus--he was en route to Florida, according to his campaign's state director. Residents toured the bus and took photographs with it. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign bus stopped Friday at the GOP headquarters in Henry County.
But he wasn’t on it. He was nowhere around it. He wasn’t even in Virginia.
Sara Craig, the Virginia state director of Romney’s campaign, said the presidential candidate was en route to Florida, having left Virginia earlier in the day following a stop in Abingdon — no doubt, with the bus.
According to Craig, it is not uncommon for Romney not to be on the bus.
“We take it around to different areas” where the campaign may not otherwise stop, she said.
“We want people to know we care,” she added.
The bus was headed to other areas of Virginia, including Richmond and the State Fair, after it left Martinsville on Friday, Craig said.
Jeff Williams, chairman of the Martinsville Republican Committee, said social networking sites were used to spread the word that Romney’s “bus was going to be here” at the GOP headquarters on Greensboro Road.
Williams said many people “connected the dots” and thought that since Romney was in Abingdon, he may come to Martinsville.
Because Virginia is a key battleground state, Williams said he spoke to Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, and made a case for the campaign to visit the area.
While the campaign still could visit here, Williams said, for now, “this is what we’ve got.” He added that although it was just a bus, “to be honest, this is more than” President Barack Obama’s “administration has done for us in the last three or four years.”
A crowd estimated at 100 people turned out, some taking photographs of others in front of the bus and many lining up to tour the bus that had a masculine decor.
It included a sitting/dining area with black leather-like bench seats. The adjacent small kitchen/office area had polished brown cabinets and black seating. There was a mini-bathroom in the hall, and the rear of the bus had two rows of seating which could be converted into sleeping areas. Several areas featured low lights under the seating. The entire bus had a shiny black floor.
A flat-screened TV with satellite service and other electronics were in the main area.
As they toured the Romney-less bus, supporters were encouraged to use a number of cell phones on the bus to make calls to drum up more support for the campaign, Craig said.
She did not know if local supporters made those phone calls, in part because Craig also was not on the bus. She was outside talking to a reporter.