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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The No Apology Tour, First Stop, Huntington, NY, March 3, 2010

On March 3rd, I traveled to Huntington, NY for the first stop on former Governor Mitt Romney's No Apology book tour. Having volunteered to help run the event, I obtained a high level of access to what took place, and I offer some thoughts, and photos.

The book signing was in the evening, but for me, it memorably began at around 4pm, when, still at work, an area code (617) call flashed on my phone. From college, I knew that this was a Boston call--but I didn’t expect to answer to hear someone named “Will”
explain that he was in Gov. Romney's car in route to the signing, wanting to know if I could find the Romneys some dinner. After a few seconds of "?!?." I responded that while very honored, I was still 40 miles away from Huntington, and would not really be able to help out in that way.

I volunteered with the Free and Strong America PAC to help run the book signing the day before. With no previous contact with FSAPAC or Gov. Romney (unless a yard sign, still in my brownstone window, counts), I had no idea what to expect.

Unless you live in a very blue neighborhood in a very blue state, you might not understand why going to see a prominent GOP leader near home might feel somewhat…STRANGE? It also begged a number of questions, such as why start the book tour in a NYC suburb; and would anyone else show up?
I also wondered what Gov. Romney would be like in person.

Answers to these question started arriving even before I reached Book Revue when the driver of the taxi who would take me from the train station to the event and even the other passenger in the taxi knew who of the signing, seemed to be curious about Gov. Romney--the IHGTR, is he going to run
, question.

By 7 pm, about 500 people were at the Book Revue store. Shortly thereafter, Gov. Romney came out from the back of the store to loud applause, introduced Ann Romney, and spoke for about ten minutes, and offered a short overview of No Apology
, and why it was written.

I would estimate that 400 of the 500 people at the event waited to get books signed, and that with multiple purchases, Gov. Romney actually signed close to 1000 books.

I helped out with the signing by handing out FSAPAC info cards to people waiting in line to get their books signed. I also made a run to the Romney's SUV to get additional materials out of the trunk.

The actual signing took place on Book Revue's mezzanine where Gov. Romney sat at a table, and Ann Romney, and several FSAPAC people milled around, and spoke to members of the public, and the media people stopping by.

Early on during the signing, I introduced myself to Ann Romney, told her how honored I was to meet her (and explained that I was the guy on the phone who couldn't find her dinner).

While handing out FSAPAC cards, people chatted with me, and, of course asked the IHGTR question--to which I firmly responded "I know no more than you about that".

The book signing crowd struck me as a fairly normal, politically-unconnected group of Long Islanders; they seemed concerned about developments in Washington and the economy; a mix of young and old; a number of children were tagged along; someone even had their dog.

Oh yes, there were also some Paulbots
(Rep. Ron Paul partisans) in the crowd with signs during Gov. Romneys' remarks, and outside with a bullhorn. At some point I couldn't resist telling one or two of them what they were doing made them look stupid, and was in really poor taste.

Towards the end of the event , I heard Gov. Romney speak to a local reporter about his view of the recent Supreme Court decision that pruning back the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law limitations; several media people also asked Gov. Romney the IHGTR question.

Eventually, I decided it was time to walk up to Gov. Romney and introduce myself, and shake his hand. I told him what an honor it was to finally meet, and then something to the effect of, “should something happen after this November’s Midterms, you have a friend, in Brooklyn, and I would love to lend a hand.”

I suppose the most surprising thing about meeting Gov. Romney was that there wasn't actually much of a surprise. In person, he, as well as Mrs. Romney, are very approachable people who seemed to genuinely enjoy exchanging banter with the public.

This wasn't a town hall meeting, but starved for anything in New York resembling one, I was struck by being at an event in which a prominent person and possible future national leader interacted casually with ordinary citizens in an old, pre-B&N/Borders-style bookstore. Again, this may not be a novelty to many reading this, but if it’s not, you probably don’t live down the street from Sen. Charles Schumer where the streets are painted BLUE.

A big thanks to "Jenn" of this blog (still don’t know your last name) for inviting me to volunteer, as well as Will Ritter (who called me from the Romneys' car about the dinner gofor-ring), and Ryan Morley of FSAPAC for allowing me to help out.

And Governor Romney: I may not have been able to get you dinner in Huntington, but I know where to find some great restaurants, and choice Electoral Votes in Brooklyn--if IHGTR turns into RIR!

Steven Rosenberg Lives in Blueklyn, er…Brooklyn, NY, sometimes goes by the nom de Web ParisParamus, and retains a certain yard sign in his window to protest the horrors now going on in Washington.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post! Love the Romneys.

Alfonso Ghiradelli said...

What's he signing? Is it an individual health insurance mandate? Oh wait, he already signed that.

Jenn said...

Auh, Steven, you're a sweetheart! Thanks for the post and photos from your evening helping Gov Romney at the book signing. Looks like you - and everyone else - had a wonderful time! Go Mitt!! 2012!