The Washington Post

One last trip to Northern Virginia

Mitt and Ann Romney came to the Patriot Center at George Mason University this afternoon for a final Northern Virginia push. The Republicans nominees for the 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts, as well as Senate nominee George Allen and Gov. Bob McDonnell, touted the usual themes with special emphasis on energy in an energy producing state. But the boisterous crowd with many young children (the county schools had the day off), college kids and suburban moms, near giddy with excitement, had one thing in mind: “One more day!” The chant broke out repeatedly before and during the appearances.

The Romneys seemed genuinely touched by the robust welcome. Ann began with a crowd pleaser: “Are we going to be neighbors?” The crowd roared with approval.

Romney’s speech was an only slightly altered version of the final stump speech he rolled out in Wisconsin on Friday. He recited the now familiar litany of broken promises by President Obama — unemployment, poverty, debt and partisanship. He hit his jobs theme, repeatedly asking the crowd if Obama’s action created more jobs. (Did Obamacare create new jobs? Did the war on coal and oil create new jobs?) The crowd responded with a ringing “No!” after each question. He cracked, “You passed the test!”

If Romney's delivery was not so crisp ( fatigue must be weighing on both candidates) his mood was buoyant. And for the last time in this key swing state, he made the case that this was a very big choice between two different visions. “Do you want four more years like the last four years or do you want real change? I know how to change the course the nation is on.” In the waning days of the campaign, it is clear Romney has gone whole hog for the change mantle. (“Change is something I have done and something I will do as the next president of the United States.”

As it has been for a few days, the line that got the biggest ovation was his critique of Obama’s “revenge” line: “He asked his supporters to vote for revenge — for revenge. . . . Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”

Before the rally I spoke with state Sen. Barbara Comstock, a Romney adviser and long-time supporter. Hoarse from speaking and cheering for days and weeks on the road, she seemed quietly confident Romney would win the state in a close race. “We hit our numbers,” she said of the voter contact, targeting and absentee voter figures. In Northern Virginia Romney must hold his own (unlike Sen. John McCain), keeping it close enough to win with huge turnout from the rest of the state, including coal country and Virginia Beach-Newport News.

Of the GOP candidates for the nomination, Romney was the best positioned to appeal to suburban moderates who may have voted for Obama in 2008 but now are terribly disappointed in the results. Romney is likely to do well in turning out his base, which can smell the victory. Now, it comes down to whether those persuadable swing voters will turn out for him as well. If they do, Romney will win the state and very likely the presidency.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.


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