Romney Addresses House Conservatives

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Feb 02, 2007 1:36 PM

Well, we just heard Gov. Romney speak to the Heritage Conservative Members Retreat in Baltimore.  In a few minutes, he will grant a press conference. A few thoughts on the speech ...

Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida introduced him. Feeney went out of his way to talk about how liberal Massachusetts is -- and how good Gov. Romney has been on social issues.  In short, it was a good introduction (if you are the speaker, that is), because Feeney served as the surrogate, addressing the controversial issues that conservatives in the audience needed to hear.

Romney received a standing ovation when he came in. He was interrupted just once -- by applause -- when he mentioned he cut the number of state workers in Massachusetts. He's a good speaker, in the sense that he checks off all the boxes you would expect a good speaker to have. But he never touched me, or anyone I talked to, on an emotional level. There were no moments when eyes swelled with tears, or hearts beat with patriotism. Maybe that's too much to ask?

The venue probably didn't help; Romney was on a stage in a full suit. He was separated from the crowd by a podium.

So what did he say about Iraq?  The Governor probably heard Rich Lowry's criticism (that he didn't mention Iraq at the National Review Summit last weekend). I say this, because he did mention Iraq,  Still, he focused much more on Iran. He probably devoted three-times as much time to Iran than Iraq.

I think this is an intentional effort to change the subject from Iraq (an issue Republicans lose on) to Iran --where voters may trust a Republican to keep them from acquiring nuclear weapons.

His speech ended with a paragraph about how optimistic and positive he is for the future. It's an obvious, but welcome, attempt to sound Reaganesque. He does.  And, even if it's perfunctory, it's welcome.

UPDATE: 2:30: Governor Romney just addressed the press.  In this setting, I think he was more charismatic than on stage.  He didn't duck any questions, and was very personable.  At one point, he meant to say, "our country," but he instead said "our company."  He never caught the slip, but I suppose most Americans wouldn't be opposed to running America more like a business (as Ross Perot claimed he would do).