Mitt Romney’s been a familiar presence in New Hampshire, having conducted literally hundreds of events here over the past six years.
But New Hampshire hadn’t seen a Romney event like his appearance before an energetic crowd of 800 at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire armory Tuesday night. Romney events are always professional – start on time, end on time, no surprises in between – but primary season events still usually had an easy informality to them. Those days of playing it by ear are clearly over, replaced by a fully polished, leave nothing to chance operation designed to project the candidate to a national audience.
If Mitt Romney’s hair was perfect before, it was more perfect tonight. The checkered casual Friday shirt was gone, replaced by a suit and tie. The staging was more elaborate, the platform lit up like Fenway. The well-rehearsed new speech was delivered with the help of a teleprompter. Secret Service agents were plentiful, and the crowd was screened by magnetometers. Campaign film crews recorded the event for use in commercials.
The theme of Romney’s speech was, “a better America begins tonight.” As his campaign conducted mop-up primary operations in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island, Romney spoke of accepting “a great honor and solemn responsibility” of being his party’s nominee.
For those affected by the weak economy, Romney asked them to “hold on a little longer,” saying he knows “how to lead us out of the stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery.”
“It’s still about the economy – and we’re not stupid,” he said to sustained applause.
State Sen. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro, where a future Summer White House might be, emceed the event. Ann Romney delivered an equally well rehearsed three minute intro. Romney’s remarks, delivered carefully and deliberately, lasted fifteen minutes.
Both Romneys worked the barricade line for 18 minutes, and pretty much anyone who wanted a quick handshake, and was patient about it, was able to get one. In a throwback to the less structured campaign days of yore, the Romneys greeted faces they obviously recognized, often doing so by name.
Fergus@ferguscullen.com, April 24, 2012