Saturday I had another great day in NH. I’ll give blow-by-blows below. Sorry for the late post, but it’s been eventful here!
Rally in Derry
We started our day getting up early, grabbing food, and driving to Derry for a rally. I’d guess probably 800-1,000 people were there by the time Mitt came in at 8:30. We happened to catch a glimpse of John Sununu right before the rally began:
Mitt was accompanied on stage by Ann, Tagg and his wife and kids, and then Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Nikki Haley from South Carolina. Both “opening acts” were great. Senator Ayotte was very sincere in her concern for the future of our country, and Governor Haley really rallied the troops.
The three together were fantastic. I think this “Wall of Champions” photo is appropriate.
Mitt of course gave a great speech, covering the themes he has throughout: this is a battle for the American soul. Will we be an entitlement society, or an opportunity society with the right to “pursue happiness.”
After the rally, the media swarmed Mitt. I’m not sure if this level of coverage is normal, but something tells me that coverage is increasing all the time.
“Backstage” with the Romney Family
When the media moved in on Mitt, I followed Jim and Rod Davies outside the gym to try and meet up with their sister, Ann. When she came out she and her brothers got a few moments to talk. After a brief chat, Ann led us down to a room that had been prepared for the family to wait in after the rally. Mitt never quite made it, given his schedule, but we got a great chance to chat with Ann, Senator Ayotte and Governor Haley. Here are a few fun photos:
I must say that I came away very impressed with Senator Ayotte and Governor Haley. The Senator told us she’d never expected to run for the Senate. She’d been a criminal prosecutor and then an appointee as an attorney general, but after seeing the dysfunction in the government felt compelled to run for Senate for the benefit of her two young children. She spoke of the challenge (that she’s managing very well) of raising two children while serving. She very wisely remarked that she knows that when she first takes care of things at home, she finds she can best do her job. She’s very worried about the size of the Federal debt, and I’ve become a big fan.
Governor Haley was also great. I loved her energy. She validated something I’ve found regarding Mitt: she’s said that she became involved with the campaign due to her belief in Mitt’s policies and experience. But as she’s gotten to know Mitt and Ann, she’s found they’re fantastic people and has come to really respect them on a personal level. As I’ve said in a prior post, my experience has shown that as people get to know Mitt and Ann, they nearly uniformly come to have great affection for them. They’re just great people: honest and very principled. Again: this man is not timid or a flip-flopper. He’s a stalwart, and so is Ann.
Meeting Another Candidate
On the way out of the rally, we ran into another candidate for President that’s been running since 1996. Vermin Supreme.
I can’t say I agree with his policies (which include mandatory tooth brushing and ponies for every American), but he’s a great foil for other candidates. Here’s a couple of his stump speeches:
Back at HQ
After leaving Vermin alone with his campaign staff, we headed back to Manchester. We made phone calls (the Romney phone calling system is nifty; if you haven’t tried it yet it’s very convenient). I completed my post from yesterday, “Mitt, from what I’ve Seen.” We also found proof that we have the dog vote (he’s wearing a pro-Mitt button).
Then we went out into Nashua to knock doors. We spent a couple hours knocking doors (I believe of likely GOP voters), talking to people, and generally having fun. Our experience matched what the polls were showing: about 40% of people we talked to seemed pro-Mitt, with the other candidates sharing the remainder. Here’s one local Mitt supporter we met:
When it got dark we headed back to Romney headquarters in anticipation of last night’s debate. One of our crowd (Rod’s granddaughter) posed with a giant sign out front:
There was some food put out for the troops, so we dug in.
Watching the Debate: a great end to a long day
We waited at the headquarters for the debate to start, but quickly found that there’d be quite a crowd, so we tried to crash the debate. We drove to Saint Anselm College, where it was great to see a traditional site of presidential debates. Protesters were out in force, from pro-Mitt folks, to Ron Paul folks, to an Occupy contingent. Vermin Supreme was also there, and obliged us with another short stump speech. We tried to get in, but it was too late. So we drove back to our hotel to watch the proceedings. Of course Mitt did great. I find his framing of the question before us as a choice between “pursuit of happiness,” with a risk of success or failure, or an entitlement society where everyone becomes poorer, very compelling.
Hopefully this isn’t too boring for y’all, but I know there’s probably some die-hards out there who enjoy my otherwise boring travel log!
More tomorrow about today’s events. Preview: here’s what the inside of the Romney bus looks like!
~Addendum from Ross
CLICK HERE TO WATCH Mitt Romney’s Town Hall Meeting in Rochester, NH