Last night I attended a Mitt Romney townhall in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Politico’s Jonathan Martin has a report from the event.
Several things struck me getting to the event. First, it was packed. Probably 250 or so people. Given the time and place, downtown Manchester on a Friday night, this is good but not surprising. Second, unlike Rudy Giuliani and John McCain’s events, the audience was mostly upper middle class, which as Fred Barnes has noticed, seems to be Romney’s electoral base.
Read on after the jump.
As the event progressed it became clear that this is probably the "best organized" event. People with signs in all the right places. Well timed. Kevin Madden, the national press secretary, chatting up the reporters. Probably a better organized stump speech. Etc. Political theater at its technical finest. Romney was introduced by his wife who gave, of course, a glowing introduction about one of the 5 sons (Matt, I think) and 2 of his kids.
At that point Anne, Matt, and the two grandkids stepped over the velvet rope that surrounded Romney and sat down. In the picture above you can see the rope. This rope was a marked contrast with McCain and Giuliani who frequently offered their microphones to people in front row.
Romney’s stump speech hit all his new themes. Washington is the problem, not the President or the White House. That he can bring change. "It’s going to take someone there who knows how to change things."
Given the audience, he spent a lot of time on taxes. He talked about the previous administration (a Republican) raising taxes (is this true?) by $b, while he didn’t. Of course, he raised revenue $700m by raising fees. But….
A voter asked "the Mormon question." It wasn’t actually the mormon question so much as the "Baptist question" as she clarified later. She said that she was tempted to vote for Huckabee because she understands him and shares his values, while she sees that Romney is a strong candidate. Romney gave his typical answer to applause. (I would note Medved’s piece about the Mormon thing not really being a problem in Iowa)
Perhaps the most interesting quote form that was, "if we made differences based on religion, we would end up looking like Shia and Sunni." I thought that was a little excessive, but…