From NBC/NJ's Erin McPike
GRAND BLANC, Mich. -- One of Romney's largest events in the state so far on this swing was certainly not one of his loudest or wildest -- despite the pep rally style complete with cheerleaders, a band and a scoreboard with "2008" overhead in the gym of Grand Blanc High School.
The 2,500 teenagers listening to him were remarkably well-behaved and even seemed hesitant to offer applause until his address was over. Several clusters of students afterward said they liked Romney and his speech, including one girl who said she likes him because "he seems like he cares about Michigan more than all of the other states."
It was Ann Romney who was able to connect with the students a bit more on their level, as she provided a few more details about the developments of her relationship with the candidate, who started the story of their meeting before introducing her.
"I wish I were in high school; that would be so great!" she gushed as she took the mic. "Mitt was so much fun in high school, and now we're still having fun, so you never know what will come from high school," she said, adding, "So enjoy your years, learn a lot, meet good friends, stay close to each other. We still have our best of friends from high school."
Romney was a bit less emotive and a bit more reasoned in his approach to telling the students what they could get out of high school. First, he compared life to the show, "Let's Make a Deal," from the 1970s, explaining that choices in life are all about the trades made.
"And the difference, however, between life and that show is that you know what's behind the curtain. People will tell you what's behind the curtain," he advised. "You get to make a trade, but you make it with your eyes open. You're not blind, and so you're making choices now, and you will make choices over the coming years, and you know what the consequences of good choices or bad choices will be."
He went on using wealth as a way to hook in the students. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey out just last week shows that 81 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds said their No. 1 or 2 goal in life is to strike it rich. Second on that list? Being famous at 51 percent.
Romney may not be aware of the survey, but the multi-millionaire and former venture capitalist seems to get the dynamics as the way he can relate to them. "Finish high school, it's worth about a million bucks," he said. "If you go on to college, and you're able to be successful in completing college, the increase throughout your life in earnings will be even larger."
"There are some other trades you make," he went on. "If you get hooked on drugs, and your life's income and your happiness quotient will go right down to the basement."
He weaved in his own experience by saying that his big choices came along later in life. "Why in the world would I give up a business that was really, really profitable, even more successful, to go out and run the Olympics?" he asked, moving into his personal anecdotes. "The idea of me running the Olympics was fraught with some irony."
Romney used many of his other standard stumping lines and stories after, including his Michigan-centric lines about the problems the state is facing and his commitment to "bringing back" the state's economic vibrancy. While he used his now nearly trademark lines about optimism, he still reminded the likely college-bound high school students -- who may be looking for a little more accustomed to motivational speakers -- of the depressing state of the workforce they are soon to enter.