Families scurried bundled children out of the cold night and into Linn-Mar High School's warm, crowded cafeteria filled with around 800 screaming supporters of former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass.
With only three weeks left until the Iowa caucuses, the presidential-nomination hopeful made his final stop of the day in Marion on Wednesday night after the Republican debate in Des Moines earlier that day.
As a part of Romney's "Ask Mitt Anything" campaign, the loud Linn County crowd came together for a "meet and greet" event, marking his 16th visit to that county alone.
The presidential-nomination hopeful was accompanied by "his sweetheart," "the boss," Anne Romney, who forged his marketability against other candidates -- in particular, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. She cited his achievements as a husband, a father, a businessman, and in running the Olympics, in addition to being the governor of Massachusetts, as past successes that will help determine the future.
"In every situation I've seen him in, he's been exemplary and extraordinary," Anne Romney said. "I look forward to him to being the next president of the United States."
Just as first lady Nancy Reagan made "Just Say No to Drugs" her platform, and the Bush first ladies have both focused on reading, Anne Romney hopes to help young people understand the importance of marriage and of making good decisions. More specifically, she is concerned they realize that "before they have babies, they should get married -- that marriage comes first."
During the one-hour-long speech, Mitt Romney stressed the importance of strong families, strong homes, strong values, and a strong economy.
"I want to kill the death tax once and for all," he said. He also voiced plans for his special savings plan.
"My view is that everyone that earns $200,000 or less a year would have a new tax rate on their savings," the former governor said. "Any of your tax rates would be zero so you could save your money for the future."
Mitt Romney said he also wanted to see a stronger military and better care for returning veterans.
His plan to follow through with all goals are simple: to keep America the strongest nation in the world. Maintaining this status relies primarily on the foundation of a strong home, economy, and military, he said.
"This is a great nation of men and women who will sacrifice for America, who love their faith, who love their families, who love their country," he said. "It is why we will always remain the strongest nation on Earth, as long as we have leadership who will lay out the truth, and I intend to do just that, with all of your help."
Tim Albrecht, Romney's Iowa press secretary, said when his candidate comes out to campaign, he draws new voters, supporters, volunteers, and precinct leaders.
"His interest in the race is rising, and crowds are growing; we're trying to get Mitt Romney in front of as many people as possible," he said.
© 2007 The Daily Iowan via U-WIRE