Romney supporters battle protesters in Ohio

Ryan Lovelace Contributor
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Protesters fought with supporters of presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney during a speech by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Parma, Ohio on Thursday.

Protesters chanted, “Pawlenty go home, Pawlenty go home,” as he took the stage before a 200-person crowd, according to Cleveland.com

A skirmish erupted when Romney supporter Richard Brysac, 77, confronted protester Al Neal, a 25-year-old union worker, by placing a bottle of water in Neal’s mouth.

“He seemed thirsty, so I tried to shove the bottle in his mouth,” Brysac told Cleveland.com. “I thought it was wrong to interfere with [Pawlenty’s] freedom of speech.”

After the bottle failed to silence Neal, Brysac attempted stuffing Neal’s mouth with a handkerchief.

Neal quickly removed the handkerchief and continued to shout until he was removed from the rally — which took place on private property at Kentown Plaza — along with other protesters.

Pawlenty reportedly maintained his composure on stage alongside several local Republican officials and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Speculation persists about whether Pawlenty or Jindal are being considered for Romney’s running mate.