A normal day of bridge tables, Zumba classes, and yoga at the Bethel Park Community Center was interrupted on Tuesday with a special guest who brought his own security.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his campaign to a picnic table outside the building, talking politics and taxes with Western Pennsylvanians one week before the state's primary election.
Romney said he wants to lower taxes for the middle class and small businesses as part of his goal to "simplify" the nation's tax system.
"I'd like to bring rates down across the board by 20%, and then limit deductions and exemptions, particularly for those at the higher income level, because I'm not looking to find a reduction in the burden paid by the top income earners," said Romney. "I want the top income earners to continue to pay the share they're paying now."
The GOP frontrunner also criticized President Barack Obama's taxation plan.
"The president's orientation is to raise taxes, and I happen to think that will slow economic growth, which is already slow, and make it more difficult for us to create the jobs that people need," said Romney.
Romney said the president's plan would take more from small businesses and the healthcare industry. The former Massachusetts governor called Obama's "Buffett Rule" proposal a ruse, implying that such a tax hike for the wealthy would garner too little revenue to make a difference in government operations.
Romney took care to criticize the president's energy policy and healthcare reform efforts as well. He spoke to a handful of Western Pennsylvanians at a picnic table bedecked with cookies, lemonade, and plastic tableware.
With Rick Santorum out of the GOP presidential race, Romney may roll to an easy victory in the Keystone State. In an April 5 Rasmussen Reports poll, Romney led both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul by more than 30 percentage points.