The first order of business was the formal announcement by Doug Gross (see photo with me) of Romney's Commonwealth PAC Iowa "Advisory Committee." As the press release at Romney's PAC website confirms, this new Advisory Committee is made up of over 50 individuals (from 20+ Iowa counties) who are dedicated to helping elect GOP candidates in the upcoming elections. However, it is easy to speculate that this might represent a precursor of a team that would be ready to spring into action if/when he announces his candidacy for President in 2008. I was honored to be one of the charter members of this Advisory Committee from the growing grassroots "Iowans for Romney" network. These individuals are Keith Steurer, Kevin Patterson, Ryan & Brenda Miller, and Jim Kirkpatrick. Jim has significant political organizing experience having served as Bush's 2000 Blackhawk County Chairmanand was also able to recruit 5 other members before moving to Fayette County (he has some other photos from the event at his blogsite). Doug Gross extended an open invitation to everyone at the breakfast to sign on to the Advisory Board to help bolster its numbers and strength through the upcoming months. Similarly, anyone not at the breakfast who would like to be considered for this Advisory Board can contact me (email@example.com) and I will inform the appropriate people. (UPDATE 6/19/06--"Hotline On Call" has this update which gives a commentary on this move)
Gov. Romney arrived with his wife, Ann, and son, Josh, (see photo) as guests were eating. Doug Gross introduced Gov. Romney who thereafter invited Ann and Josh (the middle son, of five) to join him by the podium. He first invited Ann to share a few words. The substance of her message was that our country needs more people who "stand for something" and that she felt strongly about "standing for motherhood." She also expressed the joy and satisfaction that she derives from seeing the same values that she and Mitt had try to instill in their five boys being taught to their grandchildren as well.
Gov. Romney then introduced his son, a real estate developer in Salt Lake City, UT, as "the short, ugly son" ;) Josh shared about how his father taught him and his brothers the importance of hard work and how he is always an example of putting his family first (shared how recently Romney spent over an hour reading and re-reading the same book to Josh's daughter because she kept saying "again!")
Gov. Romney then addressed the crowd. He delivered a message, without notes or text, detailing the great experiences he's had as a father, businessman, CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and Gov. of Massachusetts. He came across, as always, very convincingly and eloquently. He does seem to have an ability to inspire confidence and exude credibility. Throughout his address, he hit on his "stump speech" issues of the challenges America faces. These included "the Jihadists" (and he touched on his recent visit to Afghanistan and Iraq), the economic and educational threat from Asia, and the assault on marriage and the family. He also touched on immigration by stating that our immigration policy is "upside down" in that it's so hard for the educated, hard-working people we need here to become citizens but we will allow citizenship (referring to "Amnesty" I'm sure) to those who just walk into the country illegally.
Quoting from a Des Moines Register article that covered the convention.
"Some people think we're intolerant and not willing to let people choose their own lifestyle," Romney said about a constitutional amendment that would define marriage between a man and woman. "That's not true."In his speech he also said, "The family is the absolute foundation of our culture." I had the distinct impression that others in attendance could tell that he was a solid family man and this made his words on that issue even more convincing. This is an obvious advantage he will have over most other presidential hopefuls. His speech was followed by a resounding standing ovation. His message was strong, on target, and well delivered. The more he gets out and about, the more supporters he will acquire.
Massachusetts in 2004 became the first state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Since that time more than 7,300 gay couples have been married there.
Romney said his state's supreme court made a bad decision . . .
"What they didn't understand is marriage is primarily about the nurture and development of children and every child deserves to have a mother and father," said Romney, who received loud applause from an audience of more than 400 people."
This link to the Radio Iowa Blog has some other coverage of the breakfast in a "live blogging" format . . . pretty interesting.
After his speech he posed for pictures, signed autographs, and spent some time chatting with some of the Univeristy of Iowa College Republicans Group one of which, when I informed him of the Iowans for Romney group, said that he'll be starting "College Republicans for Romney" at UI soon. I believe this was Ben Johnson who is the Executive Director of this group and is also a charter member of the aforementioned Commonwealth PAC Iowa Advisory Board.
Keith Steurer was amazed by his good fortune to run into Josh Romney, who he knew well, having lived in the same dorm at BYU their freshman years (see their photo together).
Gov. Romney then posed for a photo with me and my son John. After most everyone was gone several "Iowans for Romney" congregated and met one another. Some of us also had a good time pretending to give our own "stump speeches."