By Craig Robinson
Mitt Romney touched down at the Eastern Iowa Airport for quick campaign rally in the state’s second most populous county on Wednesday evening. Romney was welcomed to the Cedar Rapids area by an energetic crowd of over 3000 people. The crowd was so large that campaign aides had to create an overflow area outside of the hanger once the fire marshal said the hanger had reached its capacity of 2500.
Romney’s stop in Cedar Rapids marked the first time that he has visited Linn County since wrapping up the Republican nomination in May, but you wouldn’t know it by the thunderous, and at times deafening, reception he received. In addition to Romney, State Representative Renee Schulte, Republican congressional candidate Ben Lange, Governor Branstad, and Senator Grassley all spoke to the over-flow crowd on the unseasonably warm October night.
Of the Iowa officials who spoke at the event, Governor Branstad might have had the sharpest words for President Obama. “The one thing that we have yet to see from President Obama is an agenda for a second term,” Branstad said. “Attacking Mitt Romney is not leadership,” he concluded. Senator Grassley also didn’t mince any words. “When President Obama ran for office in 2008, he talked about transparency and a post-partisan government,” Grassley stated. “Yet during my investigation of Fast and Furious, I can tell you that that this is the most opaque administration I have ever seen.”
As Grassley concluded his remarks, the Romney campaign’s MD-83 pulled up and came to a stop in front of the hanger’s door, right behind the stage. As the engines of the plane wound down, the crowd roared, and then the theme music from the movie Air Force One filled the room. While Romney made a dramatic entrance to the rally, it’s how he is finishing the race that has people excited.
For weeks now the Romney campaign has been enjoying momentum, and there were no signs of it fading any time soon in Cedar Rapids last night. Romney began his remarks by mentioning the three debates with President Obama that concluded on Monday night. He noted how the series of debates seemed to invigorate his campaign, while at the same time diminishing the President’s re-election effort.
Romney’s remarks were similar to the closing argument used in the debates to make the case for why the President doesn’t deserve another term in office. “They have been unable to lay out an agenda for what they’re going to do to help America in a second term,” Romney said. “They have been unable to defend and describe what they are going to do to get our economy going again.”
Most agree that Romney has performed well in the debates, but some Republicans wanted him to be more aggressive in the foreign policy debate, especially in regards to Benghazi. Romney chose not to get in a squabble with the President over what he knew when and instead chose use the debate to show that he has the knowledge and temperament to lead America in a tumultuous world.
Romney’s debate strategy may have not given his base what they wanted, but his approach does help him continue to seal the deal with undecided voters who are in the process of deciding who is best to lead the country. Romney correctly believes that people are looking for a serious leader, not a candidate who like to likes to relentlessly attack his political opponents.
Having watched Romney interact with Iowans since as early as 2004, there is no doubt that as the campaign enters the final days before Election Day, Romney has hit his stride. Not only are Romney and the campaign firing on all cylinders, but they are aggressively campaigning in Iowa, an indication that the Romney campaign believes he can win Iowa’s six electoral votes.
Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, made two campaign stops in western Iowa on Sunday. Romney himself will be back in the state on Friday when he visits Ames for an event at Kinzler Construction.
In addition to Romney and Ryan visiting the state, Romney surrogates are also infiltrating the state this week. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Texas Governor Rick Perry are all headlining Republican and conservative events in the state this week.
Energy and enthusiasm seem to be on Romney’s side in Iowa. While that is encouraging news for the Romney campaign, it’s equally good for Republican candidates up and down the ballot. As Romney surges, the probability that Republicans gain local legislative seats also increases. It’s also good news for the two Republican congressional challengers, John Archer and Ben Lange.
The results on election night might look more like 2010’s than originally thought. The next 12 days are going to be a wild ride.
The following photo’s are courtesy of Bill Dahlsten
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