Romney visits Arbutus

Ivan and Judy Rodriguez waited outside Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109 to catch another glimpse of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney before he left Arbutus March 21. (Brian Conlin, Photo by: / March 21, 2012)

Only minutes after Gov. Mitt Romney finished speaking at 5 p.m. in the Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109, Judy and Ivan Rodriguez waited outside for a last glimpse of the Republican presidential front runner.

Judy Rodriguez, a life-long Arbutus resident, said the values that Romney talked about during his visit of less than an hour match those of the town he visited.

"I just think it's great he's touching base with such a fine little community as Arbutus," she said. "We stand for a lot. We've got a lot of values here in Arbutus that are passed onto our children. I'm proud of Arbutus.

"I'm just so so honored that Mr. Romney came to us," she said.


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Her husband of 34 years saw Arbutus as a microcosm of the entire country and that's why he supports Romney, he said.

"If you want to see (what) the United States is all about, Arbutus is a perfect example of that. A little community with a lot of businesses growing out," he said.

"To come into our town, we were very proud of that," he said.

At noon on Wednesday, Rose Matlak left her Arbutus home for a five-minute drive to Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109.

It would be several hours before Romney would arrive for his brief visit to the small town in southwestern Baltimore County.

But she, like many in the crowd of several hundred, did not want to miss the opportunity to see the former Massachusetts governor.

"Of all the places in Maryland, it was pretty neat that he was coming here to Arbutus, right in my backyard," Matlak said as she stood near the front of the line leading to the post. "I'm really excited to meet Mitt Romney."

Also in line was Debbie Bukszar, 59, who had spent much of her childhood as an Arbutus resident before moving to Catonsville in the 1980s.

She too expressed appreciation that Romney would visit her home for 20 years

"I have some pride that he came to a small town like this, a hard-working, blue-collar town," she said. "The folks are just wonderful, magnificent people with pride in their community and it's an honor."

The excitement in the line was not to be confused with a complete endorsement for the Republican front-runner, however.

Regina Pollard, 80, for example, hadn't decided who to vote for even with early voting in Maryland set to begin March 24.

"I feel very important to have him come here and hear what's going on and hear our side and let him know," said Pollard, who has lived in Arbutus for 40 years and had never met a presidential candidate before Wednesday's event.

While Pollard is a veteran of a number of presidential elections, Evan Richards, 18, said he was looking forward to casting his first vote for president in November.

Richards, a registered Democrat, admitted he didn't know if it would be for incumbent President Barack Obama or Romney.

"I want to hear what they have to say," said the Lansdowne resident. "Instead of just following party lines, I want to hear what the fellow conservatives have to say."

Regardless of whether Romney changes Richards' mind, he said he was excited that someone in Romney's position would visit Arbutus.

Romney wasn't the only person Richards hoped to meet in the first visit to Arbutus by a presidential candidate since 2008 when then-RepublicanSen. John McCaincame to town

"It's been a dream of mine to meet Governor (Robert) Ehrlich. I've been close to him twice," Richards said of his goal to meet the Arbutus native and former Maryland governor.