Mitt Romney finally finds his message

  • 3 November 2012
  • From the section US & Canada
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Mitt Romney with a supporter's baby in Newington, New Hampshire, on 3/11/12
Image caption "Walk with me. Walk together," Mitt Romney told his supporters in a rousing speech in Cincinnati

Just when you think you have utterly lost the will to listen to another Mitt Romney speech, he hits you between the eyes and comes up with something that really does resemble oratory.

It was a message that had he been able to hew to since the primaries - well, who knows where he would be right now, or where he might be on Wednesday.

The setting did not bode well. A crowd of around 20,000, 20 minutes drive or so outside Cincinnati.

A singer warmed up a bitterly cold night, belting out stadium rock under a cloudless sky.

A speech of forced-bombast beckoned - a style that sits unhappily with Mitt Romney - one intended to fire up the troops for one more weekend of crazed canvassing, winkling out the voters who might tip Ohio over the edge and into the Romnulan camp.

When he came, once again there was the glancing reference to Storm Sandy, and an appeal for donations: "We're a generous people, don't forget 'em, thank you," was so perfunctory as to make grown men wince.

But late, late in the game, the speech had changed.

Glimpse of promise

Gone was the anger that never quite rang true.

The criticisms of President Obama - for partisanship, for the healthcare law, for the deficit, for the petrol prices that have gouged so many wallets - came quietly, heavy with regret that so much time had been wasted, so many people let down.

The president had "never led before, he'd never worked across the aisle, never truly understood how jobs are created in the new economy".

Mr Romney spoke repeatedly of bipartisanship, of the need to work with the Democrats.

"I learned as the Governor of Massachusetts that the best achievements are shared achievements, that respect and goodwill go a long way and are usually returned in kind. That's how I will conduct myself as president," he said.

"I'll reach out to people on both sides of the aisleā€¦ do big things for the common good. I won't just represent one party, I'll represent one nation. I'll try to show the best of America when only the best will do."

Quietly, as if he couldn't quite believe it, he told the crowd that the president had "asked his supporters to vote for revenge". He paused without melodrama. "For revenge."

"Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country," he said.

And the crowd loved it and they loved Mitt, roaring back, and chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

"If there's anyone worried that the past four years are the best we can do; if there's anyone who fears that the America dream is fading; if there's anyone worried that better jobs and better pay cheques are things of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message," he said.

"With the right leadership, America is coming roaring back."

Gone were the personal stories repeated so often that their original lustre was worn and dull. Instead, there was a glimpse of promise, in a quiet voice that, for once, seemed to come from the heart.

"We've known many long days, and short nights," he told the crowd, "and we are so very, very close. The door to a brighter future is there. It's open to us, waiting for us".

"I need your help. I need your vote. Walk with me. Walk together."

Walk together. What a message it is, and how late, how late it is that it has come.