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Republican Presidential Candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addressed the Tri-State Tea Party Caucus at The Franklin Institute in Center City. Get the full story here.

Credit: Prameet Kumar , Dan Nessenson

A week before the state primary, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney gathered support among Tea Partiers in Philadelphia yesterday.

At the Franklin Institute the day before Tax Day, the tax-filing deadline, Romney spoke of the need to lower taxes to several hundred members of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, the largest Tea Party group in the tri-state area.

“The big idea now is this Buffett Rule,” Romney said to laughs and boos from the audience, referring to a proposal by President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats to raise tax rates for the nation’s wealthiest. “This man is out of ideas, he’s out of excuses and, in 2012, we’re going to make sure he gets put out of office.”

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, also emphasized his desire to repeal Obamacare and scale back the amount of federal spending.

“The American people are struggling right now,” Romney said. “President Obama thinks the economy is struggling because the stimulus wasn’t big enough. The economy’s struggling because government is too big, and we’re going to bring it down to size.”

Romney also spoke of the need to unify, not divide, the American people. “We need a president who will not attack fellow Americans, who will bring us together,” he said.

Several Penn students who support Romney attended the event.

Romney has “the right background and the right policies at the right time,” Engineering sophomore Scott Danielsen said. “He doesn’t come into Philly too often.”

Romney’s appearance in Philadelphia comes a week before the Pennsylvania primary next Tuesday. With former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s exit from the race last week, Romney will most likely win the state and the eventual Republican nomination.

“It’s time to move on to the general election,” Danielsen said. “I’m convinced the nomination [process] has made him stronger.”

Zac Byer — a 2010 College graduate, second-year Penn Law student and former president of the College Republicans — said Romney “presents a solid alternative to President Obama.”

“[Romney is] in attack mode right now,” Byer said. “He just needs to be more authentic.”

Second-year Penn Law student Jonathan Newman said Romney’s speech “focused on his strengths — growing the economy.”

A large part of Romney’s likelihood of winning the presidency depends on the state of the economy at the time of the general election, Newman added.

Yesterday’s event was the Independence Hall Tea Party Association’s fourth-annual Tri-State Tax Day Tea Summit. It also featured speeches by United States Senate candidates from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“This Tax Day, the economic freedom of Americans continues to be under assault from the Obama administration,” Association President Teri Adams said in a statement. “Governor Romney realizes that the tax burden must be reduced across the board and that the economy must be given a chance to make a full recovery.”

The Association endorsed Romney in January.

“[The Tea Party’s] influence is still relevant,” Newman said. “They’re going to have a say in the convention.”

Before the event began, a group of individuals, some of whom were from Occupy Philadelphia, was protesting Romney’s appearance. They had purchased tickets to the event but were denied entry. This prompted them to chant loudly on the steps of the Franklin Institute until they received refunds.

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