Paul Ryan came and spoke today in Lakewood, Colorado, very near my home. The high school gym was packed, with over 3000 present. Most of the folks there were local, but one couple seated next to me was from Durango and had driven six hours to get there.
To say the crowd received Ryan with enthusiasm would be an understatement. In fact, his reception became literally thunderous, as many started stamping or pounding on the gym benches, and they repeated this several times when Ryan made strong points.
In his talk, Ryan was all substance, avoiding cheap campaign shots yet repeatedly bringing the audience to their feet by making clear, powerful points about energy independence, the need to deregulate, fiscal soundness, the difference between a culture of self-reliance and one of dependence, and the doctrines of Natural Law and the Declaration of Independence. That’s right, he spoke about Natural Law and the origin of rights to a campaign crowd, and they got it. In fact, along with his discussion of energy independence, it was one of the two high points of the event. I can’t remember when I’ve seen a candidate address a mass audience at such a high level and pull it off. But he did.
Previously, the support of many Colorado Republicans for Romney had been primarily based on the fact that he wasn’t Obama. With his speech today, Ryan did a lot to change that.