SALT LAKE CITY — Several hundred people munched on free french fries outside Hire's Big H waiting for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to arrive Friday afternoon.
The former Salt Lake Olympic leader and Massachusetts governor gave a speech from the back of a bright red Dodge Ram pickup parked in the hot sun outside the popular hamburger joint.
How often do we get a presidential candidate in Utah?
An enthusiastic crowd waited on Romney as he delivered a 12-minute stump speech, focusing on President Barack Obama.
"You have a president — just a couple of days ago at a fundraiser — said that he was proud of his accomplishments in the economy," Romney said. "Really? How could he possibly be proud of those accomplishments?"
Romney continued his speech by attack the president's policies.
"I think he takes his — if you will — policy inspiration from the social democrats of Europe that believe government had the right answers; that government has the right answers for the people." he added. "And they're wrong. It doesn't work there and it doesn't work here. The right answer is to believe in America and American principles."
Jennifer Baker, a junior high school teacher from Layton, along with her husband and two sons were among the crowd.
"How often do we get a presidential candidate in Utah?" she asked. Especially one "that the regular common folks can get to see."
Hires co-owner Mark Hale says he's honored that Romney, a former regular customer, decided to stop by to do a meet-and-greet with voters.
You have a president -- just a couple of days ago at a fundraiser -- said thay he was proud of his accomplishments in the economy. Really? How could he possibly be proud of those accomplishments?
"Anytime you can mix good food with a good political campaign, you've done a good thing," Hale said.
Hale says Romney started eating there during the 2002 Olympics. But there's no picture of Mitt on the wall.
Romney held a fundraiser earlier in the day in Orem and has another scheduled tonight at the Grand America hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. The minimum cost to attend those events is $1,000.
Two of Romney's sons — Craig, who is traveling with his father, and Josh, who lives in Salt Lake City — were expected to join him and his wife, Ann, for the event.
Following his speech to the people gathered at Hires, Romney talked over hamburgers with small business owners inside Hires, which closed mid-afternoon to accommodate the campaign stop.
John Wood, head of the Harmon's grocery store chain, said he was looking forward to talking with Romney.
"I just think it's a unique opportunity to share insights of what we're doing here in Utah and what we see as holding us back from doing more," he said.
Like many in the crowd, Wood is aware of the other Republican presidential candidate with Utah ties, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.
"I like Mitt Romney. I like Jon Huntsman," Wood said.