Romney 3

Presidential campaign season lasts a good 2 years here in Iowa, but with only a few days before the election, I had seen every Republican candidate in person… except Mitt Romney. So when the email came out that he would be in Des Moines on Sunday morning, I knew it was my chance.

outside-HyVee-Hall

The line to get in stretched around the corner of the Iowa Events Center at 8am as supporters waited for the airport-like security lanes. I was prepared to pass the time with Tom Wolfe’s latest novel, but I spent the entire time in conversation with an immigrant engineer who had been born in St. Petersburg. He said he has great “nostalgia” for his home country every time he hears Obama.

Once inside Hy-Vee Hall, I could see the large “Victory in Iowa” sign behind the stage. Smaller, hand-held signs encouraged, “Vote for Love of Country.” But by far the best of all the Romney-Ryan campaign buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and signs were 6 kids in red t-shirts, each with a letter, lined up to spell R-O-M-N-E-Y.

Once inside Hy-Vee Hall, I could see the large “Victory in Iowa” sign behind the stage. Smaller, hand-held signs encouraged, “Vote for Love of Country.” But by far the best of all the Romney-Ryan campaign buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and signs were 6 kids in red t-shirts, each with a letter, lined up to spell R-O-M-N-E-Y.

Romney-event-crowd

Being a Sunday, I’m sure many people had to make the choice between church and campaign. But when the Oak Ridge Boys sang three verses of “Amazing Grace” a capella, I think it was probably as much or even more meaningful as any other sermon in town today.

Then the opening line-up started with John Archer, Iowa 2nd Congressional District candidate.  “I don’t need the teleprompter” he quipped, before getting more serious and telling the crowd “this race is going to be close… go out and talk to your friends.” The message of voting and recruiting voters continued through the rest of the Iowa delegation.

Tom-Latham

Tom Latham, Iowa 3rd Congressional District candidate, asked the crowd if they felt they had more opportunities than their grandparents. Most raised their hands. Then he said “If we continue on this path… how many of you think our children and grandchildren will have the same opportunities?” He went on to speak of his grandson born this year, and how the baby was already over $50,000 in debt for his share of the National Debt.

Latham was followed by Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, who said that after working with the current president for the last four years, “the principle of limited government is in jeopardy” even though the United States had overturned “unlimited government when we beat King George.”

Lt. Governnor Kim Reynolds brought energy and smiles to the stage, telling the crowd that “on Tuesday, Iowans will have a choice between stagnation and prosperity.” She, too, referenced her grandchildren and the debt burden that will fall to them.

And then while the advance team added some last minute duct tape to the cords around the podium and the press set up in front, the crowd was treated to the campaign video bio of the Romneys from the Republican National Convention.

Terry-Branstad

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad thanked the crowd for choosing him in 2010, and spoke about how Republican governors’ states were improving in just two years. In contrast, he spoke of Illinois, President Obama’s home state, where personal and corporate tax revenues have been increased and spent but the state is still worse off than it was a few years ago. “If Obama wants to take credit for the economy,” said Branstad, “let him take credit for Illinois, not Iowa or Wisconsin or Indiana!”

Romney-2

When Gov. Mitt Romney entered the convention hall, and the cheering subsided, he thanked the crowd and the Iowa delegation, then added a “special shout-out to the Des Moines Register,” presumably for their recent endorsement. Governor Romney thanked his Iowa supporters, noting that they were there even though, “We have not promised you bigger checks from the government.”

He seemed a little tired as he began his stump speech, but managed to make it seem like it was still exciting to him, too, and he quickly became enthusiastic and more animated as he reached the heart of his message:

The question of this election comes down to this: Do you want four more years like the last four years or do you want real change? President Obama promised change but he couldn’t deliver it. I not only promised change, I have a record of achieving it. I built a business. I turned around another business. I helped put the Olympics back on track. And then with a Democrat legislature, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus, from job losses to job growth and from higher taxes to higher take-home pay. That’s why I am running for President. I want to help the country do those same things.

He repeatedly referred back to his business experience. “Talk is cheap,” he said, “but a record… is earned with real efforts.” He went on to list a number of Obama’s record of failures or broken promises, contrasting each one with his own record of business and political successes. “Did Obamacare create jobs? Did the war on coal create jobs?” For Obama, said Romney, “more government is the answer.” For the Romney-Ryan administration, “good jobs [are] the answer.”

Romney-1

The heart of his message was how the Romney administration plans to go about just that. “When I’m elected, I’m going to face stagnation. But I’m not going to waste any time complaining about my predecessor.” Instead, he outlined his Five-point Plan,  including Energy resources, Trade, Job Training, Controlling Spending (with the popularly-named “Fiscal Sanity Act”), and Encouraging Small Business. With a Romney presidency, he promised, “every business owner [will] know the President of the United States likes them.”

Romney-Crowd-HyVee-Hall

And a Romney administration would not stop at befriending business owners, but would also reach “across the aisle” in Washington. “I won’t just represent one party,” the governor promised, “I’ll represent one nation.”

“I’m not just taking office on January 20,” Romney said, “I’m going to take responsibility for he office as well.” Clearly the most popular line of the morning, it was followed by an enduring chant of “Go, Mitt, Go!” until he held up his hands in the “V” for victory sign which conveniently doubled as the cue for “Two more days!” Once the crowd settled down a bit, he closed out with, “We’re only 2 days away from a very different path.”

Before leaving, the Governor took the time to sign each red t-shirt by the group of R-O-M-N-E-Y kids, while reporters tripped over themselves to capture the moment. As I turned to leave, however, someone had left a Sunday paper on the floor, so I literally tripped over the headline “Edge to Obama: President takes 5-point lead in Iowa poll”. I guess we’ll know how it all turns out in only “Two more days!”

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