Greeted like a rock star, Romney looks to transform momentum into votes

MORRISON, Colo.—Mitt Romney isn't a rock star, but on Tuesday night, he was treated like one.

The Republican presidential nominee attracted nearly 12,000 people—easily one of his biggest crowds ever—at a rally held at one of the most famous concert venues in the country: the Red Rocks Amphitheater built into the Rocky Mountains outside Denver.

The historic open-air venue has hosted some of the more memorable performances in the annals of rock and roll, including a 1983 concert that marked the first time many Americans had heard of a then little-known Irish band called U2.

While Romney did not arrive on stage with the flash and showmanship of Bono, the GOP nominee, who was introduced by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, elicited a reaction from the crowd that could have rivaled those received by any modern day pop star. Packed high into the nosebleed seats running high along the sandstone cliffs that were illuminated by blue lights and the now familiar "R" of the Romney campaign logo, people jumped to their feet and screamed at the sight of the GOP nominee.

"Wow," Romney said, pausing to bask in the glow of a crowd cheering so loud it made his words hard to hear. "What a place this is… This is a magnificent place. For a guy born in Detroit to come here and look at these extraordinary mountains… It's just overwhelming."

The rally capped off a day in which Romney sought to capitalize on what he repeatedly insisted was momentum coming off his three debates with President Barack Obama. Echoing remarks he made earlier Tuesday at a rally outside Las Vegas, Romney insisted his campaign was now "super charged" heading into the election's final two weeks.

"We're in the homestretch now, and I think the people of Colorado are going to get us all the way there," Romney said, imploring supporters in this key battleground state to vote early and to convince others to give his campaign a chance.

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Not unlike other recent speeches, the GOP nominee went out of his way to play up his history of working with Democrats as governor of Massachusetts and pledged that, if elected, he and Ryan would seek out "good Democrats and good Independents" willing to work to change Washington.

"We're going to have to have a real change. The president said he was a president of change," Romney said. "But in fact he's become a president of status quo. And the policies of the president are a continuation of what we have seen over the last four years."

But it's unclear how Romney's message of bipartisanship went down with the audience. Just before Romney took the stage, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez spoke about the need to turn the country around—and told supporters that the GOP's push to unseat Obama wasn't personal.

She praised Obama as a man who loves his family and his country—a comment that elicited loud boos from some in the crowd.

On Wednesday, Romney heads back to Nevada, where he'll hold a rally in Reno, before heading to Iowa and then to Ohio.