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Presidential candidate Romney speaks on West Lawn

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Mitt Romney meets with Flagler College president William Abare

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney meets with Flagler College president, William T. Abare, Jr.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney prepares to speak on the West Lawn

Romney prepares to speak on the West Lawn.

Mitt Romney speaks on the West Lawn

Romney speaks on the West Lawn.

Photos by Perry Knotts

Thousands lined Sevilla Street this morning to catch a glimpse of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as the former Massachusetts governor delivered a campaign speech on Flagler College’s West Lawn.

As local and national news crews swarmed to the campus to cover what would be the first major candidate to speak at Flagler College, Romney entered the stage with the towers of the former Ponce de Leon hotel behind him, itself a national historic landmark.

For many Flagler students in attendance, the excitement wasn’t just over Romney; it was that the presidential candidate decided to kick off his Florida bus tour at the St. Augustine campus.

“I’m here so I can say I’ve seen this. I was here,” said junior Lorenzo Deagle. “My only complaint was that the youth segment is slightly underrepresented with school not being in session.“

After a slew of speakers from Sen. Marco Rubio, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Romney took the stage to deliver a speech that focused on the economy and small businesses.

“This is history,” said sophomore Liz Shaw. “I’m an older student and have been unemployed for four years. So I’m paying attention to this election pretty intently. But regardless of who you’re voting for, it’s amazing that someone running for the highest office in the country thought to stop here.”

Romney’s stop in Florida is part of a four-day bus tour that will end in Ohio on Aug. 14.

The visit comes just two days after Romney announced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan had been selected as his running mate.

To see photos, click here.