At 10 a.m. when I arrived the Dirt Parking Lot was already full as volunteers in golf carts shuttled new arrivals to the entrance way to the event.
A Romney volunteer named Rick Christie was driving one of two golf carts. He had been a Romney man back in 2008 and was delighted to see him at the top of the ticket today.
After Rick Dropped me off I spoke to a group of Romney Volunteers at the main entrance.
It was very apparent that unlike last year’s event in Concord the Volunteer staff was more relaxed as a lot more of the grass-roots were involved.
I talked to a familiar face Sheriff Scott Hillard who I’d interviewed in the past.
At the press check-In table again the contrast to the events before the Governor secured the nomination was apparent. The tension of the primary campaign was gone and people freely discussed the current events of the campaign. We chatted as I signed in and talked about Mitt Romney.
One of the men noted Mitt was generally a very reserved person but once he got to know you tends to open up. This is an excellent description of the campaign as Romney seems to have grown on the stump, particularly when he has the company of his wife but especially since the conversation turned to small business a topic right in the campaign’s sweet spot.
There was already a line of people waiting to enter. One of them a young man named John with a Scott Brown T-Shirt immediately stood out and we talked
Again the topic of Elizabeth Warren came up. It makes one wonder if the President’s adoption of her speech might boomerang into the Massachusetts Senate race to the benefit of Scott Brown.
This was the first time I had encountered the Secret Service at an event since I started as a blogger (although I had run into them at a Palin event during the 2008 campaign. I don’t tend to travel light so the emptying of my pockets, bags etc looked like something you might see if Tom Baker or Harpo Marx every passed through such as checkpoint.
One in the press area (It’s amazing to see the difference four letters “W-C-R-N” have in a situation like this). I started to get settled. As usually the reporters were spending the majority of their time talking to each other and smoozing as might be expected of people who had seen event after event every day.
I choose a spot where I could see each person as they entered so I could grab a shot
Or an interview
For most of the press this was not a source of excitement, the traveling media had seen Mitt over and over. There was however a little bit of excitement for the media: Ari Shapiro of NPR apparently had used some kind of tape to hold his power supply together and when he plugged it in to the Surge protectors the resulting combination of smoke as everything shorted out quickly drew people with earpieces.
It turned out to be a minor thing and the source of a few laughs, even from Ari who rushed out and found a replacement power supply at a nearby Staples (Thanks Mitt!) making it back with 30 minutes to spare.
The waiting continued as people kept arriving about 250 chairs were set up for the public.
I spotted a fellow with a Mitt Sticker on his hat so naturally he had to be interviewed.
His observations on Mitt’s evolution in dealing with the public is something that people who have covered him have observed for a bit.
As we got closer to the starting bell the Secret Service checked everyone out, various members of the press photographers looked for the best stop for their shots and I explained my Virbram five-finger shoes to Steven Alex Miller of the NY Post.
As it got closer to the start time and the sun got hotter people became more antsy, volunteers went into the crowd giving out water.
While this was going on I noticed what looked like (to me) a Franciscan Friar being escorted to the area behind the stage.
And then everything changed.
Congressman Charlie Bass who had been behind the stage came out and sat with the crowd and to everyone surprise the first person introduced was Anglican Priest Fr. Christian Tutor who offered a prayer for the dead in Colorado
He was followed by Senator Kelly Ayotte, her words were less of a political speech and more of the intro to a memorial service
She was followed by Governor Romney, his words were exclusively about the event of early this morning in Colorado
Gone was the speech no doubt planned for the small business setting, instead it was all about what was most precious in life. The Governor spoke for less than four minutes.
When he was done the people seemed a bit confused as if their time in the hot sun would be for only a few minutes of a speech, but they were soon to find out they were wrong.
Governor Romney, Senator Ayotte and Fr. Christian formed a receiving line
and greeted each person as they left in turn.
as if it was a wake for fellow Americans.
They greeted every person in turn, without photos or autographs or any of the normal political trappings other than the secret service on the job
As the line moved I briefly talked to Congressman Charlie Bass (R-NH) about the event
Then returned to the press area. As the last person left the line I called over Fr. Tutor who consented to an interview, while I was shooting Governor Romney came over and thanked him
Fr. Tutor explained he was contacted only 30 min before the event. That suggests the change in tone was decided in the final hour before things took place
At this point I headed back, as the buses came to take people to the parking area I spoke to a member of the crowd about the event.
As for myself, some might debate if Mitt Romney can fix the economy, if he will be conservative enough or what kind of justices he might appoint to the court, but today we discovered something important about the Governor. At a time of crisis and national tragedy, he certainly proved he could be presidential.
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come in. I saw a young man in a Scott Brown T-Shirt and It seemed to contain more of the Grass roots and