DERRY, N.H. -- A town hall crowd of almost 300 people this morning rewarded Mitt Romney with something he hasn't received in quite a while: a standing ovation.
Romney hit his stride as his drilled home his refocused message, which hung from an illuminated sign on the wall next to him: "Washington is broken."
"My view is it's going to take somebody who knows how to bring change to get Washington on track," Romney said. "That's why I'm running for office. I'm going to change Washington."
Though Romney has presented himself as a change agent throughout his campaign, that message has tended to get lost in a swirl of other issues. But after his disappointing second-place finish in Iowa, Romney is hitting on the change issue, "like a laser," as his press secretary Eric Fehrnstrom described it.
"Now is there anybody here who agrees with me that Washington is badly broken?" Romney asked the Derry crowd. "Please show it by your hands."
Almost everyone's hand shot up, and someone in the audience even shouted, "You've got the tools!"
Gone from Romney's stump speech today were the feel-good family stories and one liners about how teaching our kids that "before they have babies, they should get married." Instead, Romney recalled the reasons why he got into the race in the first place and highlighted his background as a non-ideological manager and successful turnaround artist—experience that he says separates him from the other candidates in the race.
"We face extraordinarily challenges that we have heard the politicians talk about for decades without getting anything done," Romney said. "And it is finally time to have somebody go to Washington who is not a lifelong politician worrying about his career, worrying whether his party is going to get an edge, worrying whether he is going to settle a score with the other politicians, but rather worrying about one thing: solving the challenges of the problems that face America."