Philip Rucker, que está cubriendo la gira de Romney para The Washington Post, escribe:
Now that he is their likely nominee and running an extremely close race against President Obama, Republicans are demonstrating fresh enthusiasm.
Instead of polite clapping, Romney’s campaign speech riffs are cheered with hoots and whistles and chants of “Rom-ney! Rom-ney!” As he builds to the crescendo in his remarks — saying it’s time to take the torch and hold it up high so the United States can again become “that shining city on a hill” — his words are drowned out with bursts of applause.
And when he steps off the stage to work the rope line, supporters reach out their hands six or eight deep. They put an arm over his shoulder, hug him or, as Barbara Morris did the other day in Milford, N.H., place their hands over his, look him in the eyes and say, “Bless you, Mitt.”
(...) Romney’s advisers argue that the state of the economy alone will decide the November election. But they acknowledge that Americans expect a level of zeal from their presidential candidates. They orchestrated a five-day bus tour for him through six battleground states to show him connecting with voters in a variety of settings.
In a New Hampshire park, he scooped ice cream (mostly vanilla); along a Pennsylvania highway, he stopped by a Wawa convenience store for a meatball hoagie; in Ohio, he served pancakes at an apple orchard on Father’s Day; and along the Mississippi River in Iowa, he went on a riverboat cruise and briefly took the steering wheel for a photo op.
Tom Rath, a senior adviser to Romney, said the bus tour is a chance “to get out from behind the podium and talk to people.”
“It’s, ‘Here I am, this is the guy you see on TV, connect with me,’ ” Rath said. “That’s really important. We’ve got to demonstrate our comfort level in it and our ability to do well in this kind of setting.”
Romney is taking steps to energize his crowds. He has dropped lines that reveal hesitation — “If I’m lucky enough to get elected president” — and added a call-and-response. He asks crowds if they think the president has given a “fair shot” by increasing deficit spending, favoring organized labor over businesses and bailing out companies.
“No! No! No!” they respond.
Romney receives his most enthusiastic reactions when he blasts Obama, such as his old standby: “This president is out of ideas, he’s out of excuses, and we’re gonna put him out of office.”
It may have been a foregone conclusion that Romney eventually would excite his crowds, considering that expectations for his stump performances had been so low.
But his supporters may be responding with more passion than before because, after a few weeks in which Obama has been on the defensive, they think Romney might actually replace him in the White House.
“We’ve been watching him since all the debates, and he finally looks like a winner,” said Judy Dunlap, 53, who woke up early Saturday to see Romney campaign in Weatherly, Pa.
(...) Romney’s advisers say that little has changed about the candidate. And they are right. His speeches still are practiced odes to free-market economics. He’s still darting between dusty factories and staged rallies, with the same “Born Free” rock anthem and oversize American flags.
Asked to explain the enthusiasm following an evening rally in Cornwall, Pa., Romney’s chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, said the end of the primaries brought new “integrity” to the connection between Romney and Republican voters. “They think there’s a very good chance they’re seeing the next president,” Stevens said. “I think it affects their emotional involvement, their enthusiasm and commitment. In the primary, it was ‘Okay, I like this person’ or ‘Okay, I like that person,’ and now these are people committed to Mitt Romney.”