by Brent Moritz
While my posts below capture some of the "feel of the people", the event seemed to be a rousing success. According to Romney's staff, attendance was in the 750-1000 range, though I suspect it may be on the lower end of that range. There were people of all ages, including several families and retirees. The event itself was put together on relatively short notice, with the decision to come to Minnesota happening on Friday. Held at the HQ of Frauenshuh, Inc., the room could not have held many more people.
Those who attended got to hear a fairly typical stump speech from Gov. Romney, and his comments were well-received by the attendees. I thought Gov. Romney did fine, and he played to the crowd. Three criticisms: First, I thought the introduction was lacking, as it would have been great to have some Minnesota politicians present at the event to talk to the crowd. If nothing else, showing a couple of video clips or Romney campaign commercials would have been good. Mr. Frauenshuh, highly successful in the real estate business and active member of the Republican party, introduced Romney but he could have let us know a bit more about his decision to endorse the candidate and get the crowd a bit more excited.
Romney's stump speech was red meat for the mostly Republican crowd, with the usual attacks on Clinton and the Democrats. He did contrast himself with McCain as well, and clearly was viewing this as a two-man race for the nomination. However, this is the second issue I had with the speech. I thought Romney could have appealed to those undecided voters more, asking them to come support him in the march to the White House. That was also the case at the end of Romney's speech, as I felt like he could have put out the call, making a stronger case for those in attendance to go to the caucuses on Tuesday, or to call their friends to join them.
Still, it was an interesting night, and Romney did well by most accounts. Still, McCain may win the most delegates in Minnesota on Tuesday. After all, Mondale and Dukakis carried Minnesota in their resounding losses, so the moderate to liberal message of McCain will have some support here. Yet I think the results will be closer than McCain might think.