The crowd was packed inside the ballroom in the Russell House here on campus. I’m estimated the crowd at roughly around 500. They’re all chanting, “Let’s Go Mitt”
I have covered many Romney events and the first thing I noticed that was very different were the signs behind him. The big placard read, “Washington is Broken” and there’s another big blue sign with a checklist of items that need to be fixed in Washington. People here were handed signs that read, “Change Begins With Us” Folks, we’re in South Carolina and there were no signs about family values anywhere. This is the retooled Romney message. It’s all about how he is “Mr. Fix It”, the change agent that Washington so desperately needs. Are family values an important part of the Romney message? Yes but it’s not the main focus anymore, even here in South Carolina.
This may be the winning ticket for Romney. Every time he mentions family values, some of his past flip flops come up. But by changing the subject and playing to his strength as a successful businessman, he deals a winning hand. Plus, if the economy continues to be the number one issue voters are concerned about, it squares nicely with his economic talk.
As for the event itself, Romney came here with a load full of energy. He was stoked about this “change” message. He was feeding off the crowd and they were feeding off him. He talked about healthcare for everyone but no “Hillary Care”. He talked about “better pay for better teachers”.
You know it’s interesting. You have John McCain playing up his pro-life Senate record on the stump down here because it is South Carolina after all. But at this event, he made a few passing references to the importance of family, but it was not the focus. No talk about abortion or the life issue. If he’s not going to do it here, you have to believe that those issues will no longer be the central part of his stump speech in the future.