Iowa: A Mitt Romney House Party

Today's afternoon delight was a Mitt Romney house party at the home of Ann Warren and family. It was in a suburban neighborhood where the houses are

Today's afternoon delight was a Mitt Romney house party at the home of Ann Warren and family. It was in a suburban neighborhood where the houses are all white or beige and look almost identical.

Jane and I were among the first to arrive, well before any other media. Ann welcomed us in and didn't seem to mind we were bloggers.

After chatting with Oscar Poale, above, a former minister who now owns a Georgia Bar-B-Q place and shows up at a lot of Romney events, I began talking to Rich, who lives a few doors down from the Warrens.

Rich was in attendance because a Romney campaign volunteer knocked on his door and invited him. He's 37, has a wife and 2 kids and moved here a few years ago from Reno, NV. He's an evangelical, and at the start of today's house party, is undecided who he will caucus for -- it's between Romney and McCain. He thinks a Governor has a better chance than a Senator. But, he likes McCain's war experience and what he's said about Pakistan. On the other hand he said, Romney did some good stuff as Governor.

As an evangelical, he's not too concerned about Romney's Mormonism. He likes that Romney has been married to the same woman for so long and has a close family. I ask him about Huckabee and he says he has some concerns because he thinks Huckabee advertises his religion as a selling point.

The place fills up, mostly it seems, with reporters. There are huge video cameras on tripods with beefy cameramen behind them. I say hello to Dana Milbank from the Washington Post. I grab a seat on the floor in front of the videocameras and Andrew Romano, who writes Newsweek's Stumper blog, joins me. He's a 25, a Princeton graduate who very much resembles Toby McGuire from Spiderman. I comment on how squished we are in this den off the kitchen, a room about 12 feet by 20 feet, with video cameras, cameramen, toddlers, neighbors and tons of reporters already in place. He tells me the press bus hasn't even arrived yet.


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The press bus arrives a few minutes later and now we're like sardines. I'm sorry I left my shoes at the front door because I just know someone is going to step on my sock-clad toes. Andrew and I part ways and I move all the way to the front.

Finally Mitt and the Mittmobile arrive and Mitt makes his entry.

He's at ease and confident. He looks good. I think he's more appealing-looking now that his hair is graying around the temples. He reminds me of Warren Beatty in his early days.

Since I was right in front of him, I turned on my camcorder and filmed the whole thing. I'll post some of the video when I figure out how to download it to the computer. He talked for 15 minutes or so, about jihadists, education, health care, religion and family. His son spoke too and told what he thought was a cute story about his own 18 month old son who's been on the campaign trail with him. Then it's over and the most of the press make a beeline to the door.

Romney stayed inside a while longer to chat with reporters. Jane heard him talking to the LeMonde reporters in French. Then he left, here's a picture I took just before I introduced myself and shook his hand.

On my way out, I found Rich, the neighbor, and asked if he had made up his mind yet. He told me he's now leaning towards Romney. Whether that's the way he caucuses though is anybody's guess.

As for tonight, Jane just left for a Huckabee event. Since I’ve had my fill of Republicans for the day, I’m going to stay in and catch up with news about the Democratic candidates. Tomorrow there will be more events as we get down to the wire. John Mellencamp will be stumping with John Edwards and that's a must-see for both Jane and me.

(Cross-posted at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime.)

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