ARLINGTON, VA - "Europe is not working in Europe, and it's not going to work over here," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told a group of campaign volunteers assembled at the GOP's Arlington, Va., field office on Thursday.
His comments elicited knowing chuckles from four Danish graduate students, who stood clustered in one corner of a room plastered with signs reading "Virginia Believes" and "Coal Country for Romney."
Morten Dahlin, 23, told The Huffington Post afterwards that he agreed with Priebus' remarks, pointing to the sovereign debt crises across southern Europe. Dahlin, along with Ulrik Boesen, 23, Jonas Eigil Nielsen, 24, and Jens Andersen, 23, had arrived in the U.S. on Tuesday to campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the two weeks leading up to Election Day.
The four students stressed two of the headlining issues in the presidential contest: the perceived slide into an entitlement-driven society, and the faltering U.S. economy.
"The thing about entitlements is once you give them, you can't take them away and that’s what’s dangerous. You keep getting more people on food stamps, giving free health care, you can’t take it away when the money runs out," Boesen said.
Americans have stressed the pivotal nature of the 2012 election for the country's future; the Danes argue that the world's balance of economic power is also at play.
"We need America to be the engine of growth for the Western world," Dahlin said. "And this is an election for us about who do we want to be the main economic factor in the world -- China or the U.S. We would prefer the U.S. But if the U.S. keeps going down the road that you guys are on now, it's going to be China."
One of the clearest ways to reverse that trend, Dahlin claimed, would be for the United States to embrace more free trade. And he hopes Romney would deliver that.
"We are very dependent on trading with the U.S. in Europe," Dahlin said. "It seems that the road that Obama is taking has not been a road with more free trade."
Since their arrival, the students, who are all members of Denmark's center-right Liberal Party, have been "foot soldiers" for Romney in Virginia: phone-banking and knocking on voters' doors.
They also said that some young members of the opposition party in Denmark are on the ground in the U.S., helping out President Barack Obama.
That's perhaps not surprising given that, according to a UPI/C-Voter/WIN/Gallup International poll released in September, 96 percent of Danes would vote for Obama over Romney if allowed to participate in the 2012 election.
Nielsen acknowledged the unpopularity of their politics back home.
"We are the four percent," he said with a chuckle.
The students praised Obama as being a great speaker and said it was good that an African-American had been elected president, but unlike many in Europe, they hadn't been swept up in the Obama euphoria that swept across Europe in 2008.
Although he recognized that strong entitlement programs have worked well in Denmark, Boesen says they ultimately are a losing proposition in the United States -- and would leave America looking like their southern EU partners, Spain, Greece and Italy.
They also compared Obama's health care overhaul to what would happen if Brussels and the European Union dictated how the Danish health system was run.
"We think Denmark is one of the best countries in the world, but it’s so small that it’s hard to compare. We have universal health care, which is a good thing in Denmark and we have a universal education system, where you don’t pay to go to school which can happen in Denmark, because we're so small," said Dahlin. "Look, we look alike. Everybody's like us."
The students were surprised by how different their election system was to the U.S. In Denmark, the government sends a voting card to everyone a week before the election to show at the polls and 85 percent of Danes turn out to vote.
Dahlin prepared to call Virginia voters to check if they had received their absentee ballots. Across the table from him sat Debi Deimling, 56, who had arrived at the Arlington office decked out in Americana gear. The stars and stripes adorned her navy blue sweater, headband, bracelet and tote bag. On her left shoulder, Deimling even sported a rhinestone Ohio pin to support her former home state.
When asked why she was out making close to 300 calls a day for the Romney-Ryan ticket, Deimling made no mention of trade policy.
"I am very concerned about America, just like Chairman Priebus just mentioned," Deimling said. "[It's about] bringing morals and values back, bringing democracy and freedom back to our country."