Protesters hit Romney visit
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Janesville and spoke at Monterey Mills on Monday, June 18.
Mitt Romney speaks at Monterey Mills Monday morning.
JANESVILLE As crowds packed into Janesville's Monterey Mills plant on Monday to see presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, dozens of protesters outside the plant held a mock funeral for the death of jobs in Janesville.
It was replete with mourners dressed in black and a black plywood coffin with a sign that read "RIP Janesville Jobs."
"Where'd you go, my job? Where'd you go?" a woman in a widow's black veil asked.
Behind her, a man in a Grim Reaper costume stood blowing a horn as mock mourners clutched plastic tombstones with the names of Wisconsin corporations that protesters said have either closed or slashed jobs in the last year.
The dour mockup was being leveled at the Republican Romney, who came to the Janesville fabric plant to tout a bid for presidency that he told supporters Monday would set the country on the road to "freedom, jobs and balancing the budget."
About 60 protesters lined the south side of Delavan Drive across from Monterey Mills. Aside from Romney, they also targeted their ire at Janesville native and U.S. Rep Paul Ryan, who attended the event with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
Protester Stella Cane of Janesville leaned against the protesters' fake coffin and talked about its symbolism.
"It stands for the death of the American Dream, the middle class and family-supporting jobs," she said. "The top 1 percent is dictating everything that happens in this country. They buy their politics, they buy their candidates, they buy elected office."
Behind her, a crowd yelled, "Romney, Ryan, we need jobs, not more corporate snobs!"
Cane shook her head as loudspeakers at the plant blared Romney's speech, which was loaded with promises of vitality, renewal and a country freed from President Barack Obama's health care plan.
She said none of the politicians in the plant Monday knows what it's like to live "paycheck to paycheck" in Janesville, a city hard-bitten by blue-collar job loss.
"Do they know what it's like to make a decision: groceries, gas or medicine for my children? No, they do not," Cane said.
Protesters such as Jane Roberts of Delavan, a former teacher, had a stack of white signs decrying topics including Republican budget cuts, the state of education and Romney's proposed changes to health care.
Another protester, a local woman, would not identify herself, saying she's almost ashamed to admit that she's financially comfortable when other locals are suffering financial hardship.
The woman said she's "appalled" by Ryan's proposed budget cuts that would slash welfare programs.
"I'm concerned about cuts to things like food stamps for people in need," the woman said. "More than one-third to a half of students here are on free or reduced lunches. And yet nationally we're still talking about tax breaks for the wealthy. Can we talk about this?"
As the Romney appearance ended, Denny Kehoe, 84, of Little Prairie stood outside a fence at Monterey Mills, his face shaded by a giant sombrero.
"I'm originally from Wisconsin, but I'm from the Depression," Kehoe said.
As Romney's supporters poured from the plant, he held up a sign that said, "Viva Obama."
"I'm tired of the divide-and-conquer idea," he said. "It's everywhere."
Kehoe said he believes Obama can lead the country back to prosperity.
"I've seen the real hard times," he said. "We can come back."