WEST DES MOINES, IOWA -- Undeterred by the cold or by a steady drizzle, some 600 Iowans came out this morning to hear Mitt Romney, along with his surrogate and enforcer, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, rally the troops before Tuesday's Iowa caucus begins the 2012 primary campaign in earnest.
Romney, as he has done all week in Iowa, set the stakes for 2012 high, telling the crowd the race was not about just changing occupants of the oval office, but also about "saving the soul of America."
No one wages that fight better than Christie, said Romney; the New Jersey governor returned the favor.
"As we always do every four years, America's watching Iowa and Iowa's gonna be, gonna be the folks who are gonna help to start this process to get us going to make sure that the Republican Party nominates the very best person to take on President Obama in November," Christie told the shivering crowd. "Now when you look at that stage in these debates, I think you've gotta come to the conclusion I've come to: there is no person better qualified by his experience and his character to take on Barack Obama and to lead the United States of America than Gov. Mitt Romney"
Christie also jokingly warned the crowd that there would be consequences if they did not support Romney at Tuesday's caucuses. Christie said that he would return to Iowa "Jersey Style," a statement with different, but equally terrifying meaning, to fans of "The Sopranos" and "Jersey Shore" alike.
And while Romney largely focused his message today on sweeping patriotic themes and his own "business guy" credentials, the pugnacious New Jersey governor made certain to dispense some harsh words for President Obama in his closing thought.
"President Barack Obama came out to Iowa three years ago and he talked to you about hope and change. Well let me tell you, after three years of Obama, we are hopeless and changeless and we need Mitt Romney to bring us back, to bring America back," Christie said.