Iowa Straw Poll show starts late, Romney speaks first

Iowa GOP chair Ray Hoffman made a few remarks to the crowd gathered here in Hilton.  But first, he told the crowd as a "former Marine" he had to change the positioning of the flags.  The crowd cheered as he switched the American flag to his stage right.

Laura Ingraham is the event’s emcee.  She opened with a joke about the big boar at the State Fair, and declared herself the Simon Cowell of Iowa’s version of "American Idol."

Singer Rockie Lynn just sang the national anthem, and now he and his band are singing a song dedicated to US troops.  Their performance brought to you by Bono and his ONE campaign.

At one o’clock, the candidates were announced to the crowd.  The crowd erupted as Romney was the first announced.  Among the candidates, Romney is wearing an outfit for a summer day — cream linen pants and a black short-sleeved shirt.  The rest are dressed in suits.  Check that.  Brownback was the last on stage and he, too, was dressed for a hot summer day.  Khaki pants and a red, short-sleeved shirt.

Aaron Copeland’s "Fanfare for the Common Man" was played as the candidates took the stage for the picture with all the candidates.

Some confusion now on stage.  The emcee tells ’em all to leave.  "No, Mitt, you stay," she advises and launches into the introduction.

Romney is first.  A video’s playing showing Romney campaigning in Iowa.  A bus…a windmill…people…an American flag….a main street…Mitt standing in front of an ice cream cone sculpture in Le Mars.

Now, Romney’s standing on stage.  "What a thrill to be here," Romney said to open.  "…I love Iowa and I love the people of Iowa."  Tells a couple of jokes he’s told often on the trail.  "What brought us here is that change begins in Iowa and change begins today."

He’s embarking on his "strength" message.  Starts with military strength.  Issues his defense of Bush — the "he has kept us safe these last six years" line — crowd erupts.  "And that has not been easy."

Romney defends Gitmo interrogations.

Now, to strengthening the economy.  Attacks the three leading Democrats.  "The right answer is to keep our taxes down," he said.  Romney ridiculed Edwards plan to help Americans save, as Romney argues it won’t save Americans much.   "In his case, it won’t even buy a haircut," Romney joked.

Now, his immigration message.  "I will secure our border…."  you may have heard the ads on the radio.  The crowd applauds.

Now to the strong families & family values.  "I am firmly pro-life.  I will promote a culture of life," Romney said, to applause.  Gets more applause when he decries out-of-wedlock births. 

Now, onto the culture war.  "I want to make sure that every computer that goes into the home has a button….to block all that pornography."

"One strike and you’re ours," Romney suggests for child predators and their required prison time.

"We’ve got some great challenges…I’m confident that our future will be even brighter than the past."

An Olympic story now, about the American flag.  Talking about the "reprise" in an old version of the National Anthem. 

"It’s that spirit, that love of liberty…that convinces me that our future is brighter than our past."

Romney’s done.  NO he’s not.  He brings on the guy from the Olympics who was the subject of his story.  Now, the whole Romney clan is coming on stage.  Some country western song is playing — "A Little Less Talk and A Lot More Action."

"Change begins in Iowa.  Thanks you guys," Romney says. 

"A lot more action," the music lyric concludes for him.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.