MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney, who has tried to steep his candidacy in symbolism, wanted to send a signal with his final rally before voters head to the polls.
Romney launched his campaign with a simple speech and by serving Crock-Pots of his wife’s chili on a rural New Hampshire farm. Seventeen months later, the Republican presidential nominee returned to the Granite State to address a thunderous crowd of 12,000 at an event that was part political rally, part rock concert and part laser light show.
Staged in the Verizon Wireless Arena in downtown Manchester, the Monday night rally was a singular moment in Romney’s campaign. And the message he tried to send was clear.
“These last months of our campaign have seen the gathering of strength of a real movement across this country,” Romney said. “It’s evident in the size of these crowds like this tonight — my goodness. And I understand there are a few thousand people outdoors who couldn’t get in too.”
The capacity crowd included an unlikely mix of Romney supporters: an older man wearing a military veteran hat, a young woman with a red glow stick coming out of her low-cut shirt and parents with young children.
Romney was introduced by singer Kid Rock, who performed a stirring rendition of “Born Free,” Romney’s campaign anthem, from standing atop a piano labeled with a sticker that read, “Bad Ass.”
When the Romneys stepped on stage, they stood for more than two minutes waving their hands, visibly emotional, before the crowd would quiet to let them speak. Ann Romney began her remarks by paying homage to Kid Rock. “We are kids of Detroit, Kid Rock and I are, and Mitt is a kid of Detroit,” she said.
Then she recounted her and her husband’s long journey to Election Day. “It started in New Hampshire a year and a half ago,” Ann Romney said. “Our hearts are full, and what we have learned by going on the trail is we’ve seen the America that you all love, that we all love. We feel it’s in danger. We feel it’s slipping away from us … Hope is on the way and it starts tomorrow.”
Mitt Romney swooped into New Hampshire for the second time in three days as he fights hard for an edge in this battleground state, whose four electoral votes could prove decisive in a close contest.
He delivered the standard version of the “closing argument” speech he debuted last Friday.
“Together we must lead America to a better place,” he said. “We’re only one day away from a fresh start, one day away from the first day of a new beginning.”