Romney/Branstad rally in CR (AUDIO)

Click here to read a Radio Iowa story and listen to the half-hour-long rally.  What follows is a live blog of the event.

The clock just struck 10 o’clock this morning. I’m sitting in a conference room at the Kirkwood Events Center in Cedar Rapids, waiting for former Goveror Mitt Romney and former Governor Terry Branstad (who’s running to return to the governor’s office in Iowa) to enter the room for a political rally.  Most of the crowd is chatting.  A woman has twice hooted, for lack of a better descriptive word, but the rally has yet to begin.

At about five ’til 10 Branstad walked in the back of the room, but a staff member escorted him back out.  A dark curtain is hanging along the east wall of the room, providing a backdrop for the stage and placement for the “Road to Victory: Branstad/Reynolds 2010” sign that hangs from it.  

Mariannette Miller-Meeks is first to speak to the crowd. “I thought I was having a bad hair day until I stepped out into the wind,” she said, as a sort of mistress of ceremonies.  “…This is a no-fly day.”

Miller-Meeks told the crowd her opponent, Congressman Dave Loebsack, “hadn’t expected much of a race,” then she said her husband had shared a quote from Will Rogers with her: “There’s two ways to argue with a woman.  Neither works.” 

The crowd cheered as a group of Iowa Republican candidates and the party’s chair entered the room. “Look what the bus brought in,” Miller-Meeks said, adding a few seconds later: “Boy, the Winnebago can bring in a lot of people.” She also joked with the crowd about Romney wearing jeans on the campaign trail.

Kim Reynolds, the nominee for lieutenant governor, is next to speak. “Oh, my gosh, what a phenomenal turn-out…Terry Branstad& I have each traveled to all 99 counties in the state of Iowa.”

The crowd cheered.  “And you know what we’ve seen are good, honest, hard-working people who want…stability returned to their government….These past four years have given Iowans whiplash…We have seen bloated spending…a film office scandal…promises of 30,000 jobs with an I-JOBS program that was administered so poorly that we’ve actually seen a loss of 20,000 jobs.”

Reynolds soons delivers the line Terry Branstad used thrice in his debate with Culver last week. “We know that Chet Culver loves Iowa and we know that he has tried really, really hard, but you know what?” Reynolds asked. “The results speak for themselves and the status quo is not acceptable anymore.  You know what I think?  I think it’s time to change course.  Help is on the way with Terry Branstad leading it.”

She was done speaking at 10:20 a.m., introducing a “great friend of Iowa…Mitt Romney.”

“Wow, what a welcome.  Thank you so much.  Thanks you guys.  Wow,what a welcome.  Thank you so much.  It’s a — thank you,” Romney said as the crowd of probably a little more than 200 cheered.

Romney cited a line from the theme song of the hit TV show Cheers. “It sure is nice to be in a place…where everybody knows your name,” Romney said.

Romney used the phrase “extraordinary team” to describe the roster of statewide candidates who were standing on stage, along with Miller-Meeks, a candidate in the congressional district that includes Cedar Rapids.  “What a difference these people will make for Iowa,” Romney told the crowd.

Romney said Iowans have an unsual opportunity to examine the two major party candidates for governor. “In this case,you’ve got two people who’ve both been governor and you can compare the records of the two people,” he said.

A few moments later, Romney made reference to the introduction of Kim Reynolds.  “When you said someone young, attractive and full of energy, I thought Terry Branstad,” Romney said and the crowd laughed and clapped.

Romney quickly referenced his travel schedule. “By November 2, I will have been in 25 states…and there’s something very powerful going on in the country.  There’s going to be a remarkable rejection of Obama/Pelosi/Reid and the liberal policies you see right here in Iowa.”

He mentioned some of the other gubernatorial candidates he’s been campaigning with over the past few months.

Romney said the federal economic stimulus hadn’t created private sector jobs, but instead had “protected government workers and unions.  It did not do what the economy needed….then we saw ObamaCare…cap and trade..and their card-check efforts.”

Romney returned to a theme he discussed during his spring-time book launch tour. Liberals “don’t fundamentally understand what makes America America,” according to Romney, who said liberals, “whether they’re in Washington or Des Moines” are trying to “smother that spirit” of America.

“No, we will not let you take over America,” Romney said.

Romney predicted Branstad would cruise to victory:  “Nov 2, about 10 seconds after the polls close, they’ll be calling the race.”

Romney quickly wrapped up, speaking for a little more than seven-and-a-half minutes, then Branstad began speaking.  He began by touting the entire ticket.

“We’ve charted a path that’s taken us through all 99 counties,” Branstad said, then there was a pause before he continued. “What I’ve seen and what I’ve heard from you, the people of Iowa, is that we need to chart a new path…and we intend to do that.”

“…We must raise incomes, not propery taxes and debt in this state.”

“…Will you help this whole team win on November 2?” Branstad asked.  “Governor Romney’s not the first governor to come here to campaign for me, and he won’t be the last.”

Branstad goes on to talk about NJ Governor Chris Christie, who campaigned for Branstad earlier in the month.  Branstad (with Romney standing right there on the same stage!) told the crowd that, during Christie’s speech, he hadn’t been that inspired by a speaker since Ronald Reagan.

“The choir needs to sing,” Branstad said, winding down.  The crowd began to chant:  “Branstad.”

Romney shooks hands and posed for pictures before saying to three hovering reporters: “Gotta go, guys.”  He exited the room.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


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