Country music star Trace Adkins performed some songs before Romney and Ryan took the stage. Adkins finished with his song “Tough People Do”, saying, “It’s gonna take a couple of tough men but Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are gonna get the job done.”
The doors shut at six o’clock and overflow was sent to a grassy hill beyond the fence to watch, but enthusiasm ran high—while the free concert was partly responsible for the overjoyed crowd, Governor Romney’s debate performance from the night before likely amped up supporters.
The general consensus that Mitt Romney outperformed incumbent candidate President Barack Obama at the presidential debate the night before was apparent in his newfound confidence and in recent polls. After the party conventions, Obama held a steady 3 point lead average, but Governor Romney nearly caught up with a 1 to 3 point gain since the debate in battleground states. Ryan appealed to the surge and commented on Romney’s debate performance, saying, “Last night we saw a clear picture. We saw a clear choice.”
Despite the heightened support throughout the crowd, people eventually left the rally—many attendees even missed Romney’s speech. He spoke about jobs and the economy. Romney promised that an additional 12 million jobs would be created under his presidency. He also mentioned that under any condition, he would not raise taxes.
Afterward, the National Rifle Association (NRA) endorsed the ‘Comeback Team’ with NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) Chairman, Chris W. Cox. He spoke, saying, “Today, we live in an America that is getting harder to recognize every day led by a President who mocks our values, belittles our faith, and is threatened by our freedom. So on behalf of the four million men and women of the National Rifle Association, representing tens of millions of NRA supporters, it is my honor to announce the NRA’s endorsement of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for President and Vice President of the United States.”
The rest of the night followed a similar vein, focusing on the alleged Democratic threat to God, Country, and Guns under President Barack Obama. To connect with the crowd, Ryan pulled out his camouflage decorated iPhone and said he was proud to be a Midwesterner who clings to his guns and religion. He also mentioned that he looks forward to going deer hunting with his daughter when the election is over. The crowd responded with cheers and a “USA” chant.
Many references were made to the Supreme Court seats, which will likely open up in the next term. Chairman Cox said that if President Obama gets reelected the US could expect to, “get 1 to 3 more Sotomayors or Kagans” and if that happens, “We can kiss our constitutional right to own a firearm in the United States goodbye along with a lot of the rest of our freedoms.”
The USA chants became frequent and Romney and Ryan responded with talk of an exceptional America. Yet, for all the talk of the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism, many issues were absent from the discussion. Governor Romney certainly addressed that he could facilitate “a real recovery” in regard to the economy, but issues like health care, women’s health, and college tuition were noticeably absent.
Because of Virginia’s battleground state status in 2012, Virginians will likely be privy to more attention from both parties in upcoming weeks. Romney announced Ryan as his Vice Presidential nominee in Norfolk in August and President Obama came to Charlottesville in August as well. Although Barack Obama has consistently led in the Commonwealth, the race will end up incredibly close.