Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) - A handful of people wearing "Vets against VA vouchers" T-shirts showed up at Mitt Romney's economic speech in Columbia to express opposition to an idea the GOP presidential candidate has floated about privatizing health care for military veterans.
The former Massachusetts governor was speaking about jobs and labor policy at Colite International after he toured the corporate and retail sign manufacturing business. Ann Romney joined her husband onstage and delivered brief remarks.
The five activists, four of them veterans, identify themselves with the Occupy Columbia movement. Navy veteran and Columbia resident Melissa Harmon, 34, waited until Romney brought up health care to reveal her T-shirt.
She said she was protesting comments Romney made in South Carolina on Veterans Day when he mentioned the idea of allowing veterans to choose between a private plan and government-run system.
"If you're the government, they know there's nowhere else you guys can go. You're stuck," said Romney, speaking to about a dozen veterans in Mauldin. "Sometimes you wonder, would there be some way to introduce some private sector competition, somebody else that could come in an say, you know each soldier gets x thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose whether they want to go into the government system or in a private system with the money that follows them, like what happens with schools in Florida where people have a voucher that goes with them, who knows."
Harmon said they had no intention of being disruptive and that she "stood there politely" when she revealed her "Vets against VA vouchers" T-shirt, but at different times they were escorted outside by Romney campaign aides, who allegedly told them to leave the premises.
They left the parking lot without incident and repositioned across the street where Romney would presumably see them as he was leaving.
A Romney aide and spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Last week, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann's foreign policy speech was interrupted by about a dozen protesters from the group Occupy Charleston. The disturbance drowned out the Minnesota congresswoman's remarks, and she briefly left the stage until it was over.