FIRST PERSON | GOLDEN, Colo. -- It's a little bit country club, and a world away from the Super Tuesday Obama event I attended in 2008.
Mitt Romney's latest Colorado stopover -- this time at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Golden -- was one of several visits Romney has made to Colorado in recent weeks, a bit closer to Denver this time but still a fair trip west for me. I live just north of Denver and I took the bus there, plus about a mile of walking in intense sun. Most of the people attending were nicely dressed in a theme of red, white and blue, with very few protesters or even slogan t-shirts in evidence with the exception of Romney paraphernalia. Most attendees drove. A plane circled above, buzzing the event with a message nagging Romney about "those returns."
Like the Obama event in 2008, the crowd here was much larger than the 900-seat capacity of the event center. Judging by the line, it was about three to four times larger. Once again, I nearly made it in only to be turned away, and I joined the crowd waiting outside for his arrival at a side entrance. Secret Service agents in jackets and slacks were among us, and I noticed that in this crowd they blended right in. In fact, they were friendly and even showed some humor, and I didn't see anyone who seemed to view them or the police and state patrol as "them."
It was a pretty boring crowd, in comparison to Denver political events. But that's just judging by appearances.
Golden reminds me of my childhood home in Lexington, Mass., which was at the time a middle class community. Many of my neighbors were local businessmen, and houses were reasonably priced. President Gerald Ford visited for the nation's bicentennial. Golden's Fourth of July is presented by the Lions Club, just like home. My feeling is that, these days, this kind of community is invisible to the media and Washington.
In line and in the crowd, I met and overheard enough people to get a feeling that this crowd saw Romney's "you didn't build it" remark, on the economy, as a personal message. They were talking in line about their own small businesses, homes they had owned for many decades, and generally roots that they had planted deep in the community. There were veterans. They were, for the most part, comfortably middle-class. They were talking clearly and with passion about the practical aspects of government policies, especially health care, and the effects on their businesses and employees as well as themselves.
When Romney arrived, I remembered times when I'd worked for a major corporation and the CEO dropped by. He gave a feeling that he was there to make an impression, but really wanted to get down to work. Outside, he was just saying hello. He had a speech to give. This is my theory about Romney skirting Denver: He is building a team, rather than selling his vision. He's reaching out to those who want Washington to find some stability. For that, he's directly targeting communities.
Romney's visit gave a chance to get an up-close impression of him. Obama did similarly with the overflow crowd in 2008. It's clear to me that showing up to see the man or woman running for office is important. Finding out who else cared enough to show up as well, and listening and seeing how candidates address those they wish to lead or represent is also a key. In Colorado, so is the sunburn from waiting in these enormous lines.
- Politics & Government
- Mitt Romney