Endorsement from on high sets tone for Romney rally
Campaign diaryJOHN HARTEVELT
This was not like any prayer you may have heard before.
As the hundreds who were gathered in a Tampa Bay aircraft hangar in Florida bowed their heads, Pastor Rob Taylor started off just as anyone might have expected.
But then he picked up the pace.
"Lord, we know that all is not right with America," he said.
"I pray that every voter's eyes will be open to the truths that are facing us."
Well, he was leading the prayer at an election campaign rally. But are men of the cloth allowed to be this partisan in conversation with the Lord?
"I pray for the candidate that is aligned with biblical values."
That would be Mitt Romney, in case there was any doubt. Romney himself came later, after a long series of warm-up acts.
A combination of sensitivity for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and perhaps the average age of the crowd meant there was not a huge amount of rootin'-tootin' for any of them.
Local war hero and first-time candidate for Congress E J Otero led the pledge of allegiance. Ryan Julian knocked out the Star Spangled Banner.
Others came and went, saying things like, "This is the most important election in my lifetime", and, "I can feel the energy!"
When Romney finally took the stage - all jabbing hand gestures and jerking waves - he was welcomed by the first-string warm-up mob, consisting of Congressman Connie Mack, Senator Marco Rubio and former governor Jeb Bush (that's George W's little brother).
All except Bush were in bright, white business shirts - Romney with the sleeves neatly rolled up a few folds.
Romney started on a solemn note for the victims - "financial and in many cases personal" - of Hurricane Sandy and ripped through his five-point plan for his adoring crowd.
"There is not an evil bone in his body," Mitch Peterson, 64, said.
"He is totally opposed to everything Marxists and Socialists stand for."
After a bit of "USA, USA" and "Romney, Romney" from the crowd, the Republican candidate built to some concluding remarks that were - as is customary - inaudible because of all the cheering.
There was a minor crush at the foot of the stage for a grip of Romney's mitt.
He worked his way around the supporters behind a keen security guy and waved his way off the stage towards his great blue, branded plane, which had earlier been rolled a few metres back to make the television shots just right.
The press pack folded up their gear and took off at tremendous speed as the unofficial merchandising touts swooped on giddy supporters, exhorting them to snap up "today only" bargains - all T-shirts only $15.
"Jeez, but it was $20 on the way in," one of the tout's victims complained.
John Hartevelt is travelling on a US Government-funded programme.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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