By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - University of Colorado Denver students gave mixed reviews to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech on the Denver Campus Tuesday night.
Romney hoped for a different outcome in the Colorado caucuses - the night belonged to challenger Rick Santorum - but the former Massachusetts governor made clear that he expects to become the Republican nominee.
About 150 people as well as dozens of journalists attended the watch party at Tivoli Turnhalle. TV screens lined the walls, showing the Tuesday wins by former U.S. Sen. Santorum in the Missouri primary and Minnesota caucuses. Santorum defeated Romney 40 percent to 35 percent in Colorado.
Scenes from Romney watch party at Tivoli:
"I want to congratulate Sen. Santorum, wish him the very best," Romney told the crowd. "We'll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee with your help."
The Romney campaign opted to have its watch party at the Tivoli after working closely with the Veteran Student Organization, a student-run organization at CU Denver.
The reactions of the Veteran Student Organization members to the speech ranged from being impressed by the remarks to wanting more specifics from the candidate. A couple servicemen-turned-students questioned whether Romney, with his wealth as a former venture capitalist, represents the average American.
"Having accumulated tens of millions of dollars over the past few years ... I think it's a sign of how he might be potentially out of touch with, if not this crowd, the American public in general," said Dennis Mont'Ros, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force and current sophomore in creative writing at CU Denver.
"I think he's a good candidate, but I'm not ready to endorse anybody," said Adam Sutton, who served in the Marine Corps, and is now a junior studying business administration. "For me, personally, it was about getting back to the fundamentals of what America is founded on."
Sutton said the Veteran Student Organization supports the democratic process as a whole, rather than promoting one party over the other. "We wanted to incite some constructive conversations about what's going on," he said.
Ashley Metcalf, who served in the Air Force and is a junior studying sociology, said it's not necessarily always beneficial to have a candidate who thinks in business terms as a leader. "I personally don't want the country run as a business. In this day and age corporations have no loyalty to their workers, and I don't want to live in a country where I feel like the country doesn't have loyalty to its residents."
Morgan Sforzini, a sophomore studying history, said it's valuable for the Denver Campus to host a political candidate, regardless of political affiliations. "It would be good if more candidates came to campuses like this," said Sforzini, who served in the Marine Corps. "The younger voters aren't too much involved yet and they need to be."
Romney, who was introduced by his son Josh, got the loudest cheers when he repeatedly said, "President Obama has failed and we will succeed."
He touted his years of experience in business leadership as well as acumen in leading Massachusetts and the 2002 Winter Olympics. He said he'd bring "fundamental, bold, dramatic change" to Washington, D.C.
Romney received strong applause when he said, "I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag. We stand for freedom and hope and opportunity."