Mitt Romney, the presumed Republican candidate for president, will visit the Hazleton area Saturday, officials said Thursday.
The former Massachusetts governor will tour Weatherly Casting and Machine Co., 300 Commerce St., at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, the Romney campaign said. Doors will open at 7:45 a.m. and the public is invited to attend.
Mike Leib, president of Weatherly Casting, said Thursday he was contacted by the Romney campaign about the visit.
In February, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., visited Hazleton Casting, which is owned by Weatherly Casting. Leib said Toomey’s visit may have been due to his testimony before a panel of state legislators on job creation convened in Hazleton by state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-116.
“I testified about health care issues and about the regulatory burden on small business,” Leib said. “We have a 100-year-old facility here. We are trying to make ends meet and it has been difficult the last three years.”
Leib said Toohil facilitated Toomey’s February visit, during which U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11, also campaigned locally on behalf of the Republican Party.
Both legislators spoke out against government over-regulation and its effect on small businesses like Weatherly castings.
Barletta will join Romney on Saturday, according to Barletta’s campaign manager, Lance Stange.
“The region is critical to the election. It’s important (Romney) come here and listen to what people have to say. Congressman Barletta looks forward to participating in that discussion,” Stange said.
Weatherly Mayor Tom Connors called news of Romney’s visit “fantastic.”
“When a presidential candidate comes to your community, it’s a honor. We will do everything we can to make him feel welcome,” Connors said.
Following Toomey’s February visit, Connor said Weatherly Casting is an appropriate campaign stop for Romney because small business plays a critical role in job creation and economic recovery.
“It’s fitting he’s coming to the Foundry because it is so important to the community, and the jobs are so important to the country,” Connors said.
Between the Weatherly and Hazleton sites, the firm employs about 115 people, Leib said.
Residents interested in attending the free event can visit romneypa.com, email [email protected], or call 717-746-8098, according to the Romney campaign.
In addition to Romney supporters, political opponents are planning to attend Saturday’s campaign stop.