Mitt Romney opened his speech by telling the Des Moines crowd, “It’s good to be back home”. He closed it by encouraging people to head for the exits of the State Historical Society Building. Fire alarms starting blaring in the midst of Romney’s visit. Overcooked microwave popcorn was the culprit.
Before the alarms brought the event to a premature close, Romney was very well received by the crowd of 180 activists and businesspeople. This was the first event in the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s “Presidential Candidate Series”. It was Romney’s first visit to Iowa in seven months. Around 40 members of the local and national media were on hand.
Romney opted for an open collar shirt with no tie, which is a departure from the nice suits he usually wore during the 2008 campaign. In fact, a large portion of the crowd was more dressed up than the former Massachusetts Governor.
Romney’s speech focused heavily on economics and criticisms of President Obama. He reminded the crowd of his business background and stated that his financial expertise is what the country needs. “To create jobs, it helps to have actually had a job,” Romney said to applause.
Romney dodged a question from the moderator when he was asked if he will participate in the Ames Straw Poll in August. “I can’t tell you right now. That’s up to the political folks,” he said. Romney’s campaign spent over $1 million to win the 2007 Straw Poll. He promises a much leaner campaign structure this time.
Romney will declare his official candidacy on June 2nd in New Hampshire. When asked why he would not make the announcement in Iowa, Romney vowed to make plenty of visits to the state. “You’ll see me more than you like,” he joked. “I’ll be here plenty.”
When the fire alarms began blaring, Romney encouraged the crowd to head for the exits due to safety concerns. The alarms stopped briefly and Romney took another question before they sounded again. He asked for some guidance from someone in charge of the building. None came and so Romney again encouraged the crowd to head for the exit doors. Once outside, he signed autographs and posed for pictures for around 10 minutes before leaving for his next event.
Many longtime activists said they had never attended a political event ended by a fire alarm. Combined with the recent cancellations by Donald Trump and Michelle Bachmann, Polk County Republicans have seen a string of bad luck with events involving potential presidential candidates.
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