Demonstrators head to Tropicana Field to meet delegates

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla - Tom Gualrapp of Freeport, Illinois, clad in a grey t-shirt adorned with two small buttons watched as delegates arrived at Tropicana Field for what many protestors are calling, "The World's Largest Cocktail Party."

Joining the 54-year-old were four of his co-workers and about two hundred other protestors with varying causes.

"If he really cares about American people and about middle class people, he would come and talk to us," said Gualrapp.

Gualrapp is referring to Mitt Romney, the person he and other protestors came to confront.

Having worked at Sensata Technologies for 33 years, manufacturing sensors and controls that are used in aircraft and automobiles, Gualrapp will be out of a job come year's end. 

Bain Capital, which was co-founded by Romney, runs the company.  They are planning to shut down the Freeport plant this year and outsource 170 jobs to China.

"He placed the people in the position of power that run that company that he makes millions of dollars off of every year. The company is outsourcing our jobs while he stands behind a podium saying jobs is priority," Gualrapp said.

Gualrapp and the four colleges who trekked down to Tampa want Romney to step in and save their jobs.  Romney claims he left Bain in 1999.  However, documents show that Romney did hold management and leadership positions beyond that date.

A Romney spokesperson later reiterated that Romney is no longer affiliated with Bain and has no say in their operations.

"We have pleaded with Mitt Romney to come to our community and help save our jobs and we got no response," Gualrapp added.

Gualrapp and his colleagues started a petition to keep their plant open and got 35,000 signatures.  Gualrapp said he took those signatures to bank headquarters in Chicago and had the doors shut in his face.

Gualrapp's struggle symbolizes the bottom line for many protestors.  Many outside of Tropicana Field held posters saying, "Mitt Romney is King of the 1%."  Demonstrators believe Romney represents the elite and not the common working man or woman.

"We are not giving up and going quietly into the night," Gualrapp said.

Hundreds of protestors who were almost outnumbered by police, hung on fences and held up signs while repeating catchy chants.

"One, we are the people," chanted protestors.  "Two, we are united.  Three, we don't want a Romney economy."

Three protestors came armed with a Romney paper-mache puppet which was more than 10 feet tall.  The protestors walked the puppet directly behind a banner which stated, "Food not bombs."

"This CEO has got to go," demonstrators chanted.

Despite their on-going issues and concerns, demonstrators stayed outside of Tropicana Field for less than an hour.  Although they did walk the parade route in trickling rain, many boarded buses and headed back to their hotels as the wind and rain picked up.

"We want to get in and out, get our message out and go," said Caleb, who came with Gualrapp.

Other protest organizers explained that the weather was not what had them leaving after an hour.  Instead, they pointed to logistics, saying the buses are scheduled to leave at certain times and they need to be on them to get back to their hotel.  Organizers also added they are hitting multiple events at one time.

However, with 50,000 protestors expected in Tampa for the RNC, the turnout at the opening gala was small.

As delegates left the party around 9 p.m. not one protestor was left in the free speech zone between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue South.

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