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Idaho gives Romney an enthusiastic welcome

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- This morning in North Dakota, Mitt Romney talked about energy.

This afternoon in Idaho, he felt it.

Before what was easily the most boisterous, pro-Romney crowd of this campaign cycle, the former Massachusetts governor seemed delighted by the response he received, deadpanning as the crowd cheered, "You seem to be more than slightly inclined to support my candidacy. Is that right?"

The Idaho Falls fire marshal estimated 1,200 people packed the main gymnasium at Skyline High School, where they heard Romney's typical rally speech, with a side of energy policy. Romney himself seemed moved by the energy in the room. He normally plants his feet and stands ramrod straight, as he delivers remarks. Today, he paced the stage, talking fast.

"I am in this race, in part, because I have a wife who told me I needed to get into it again," Romney said. "She said that because we have five sons and five terrific daughters in law and 16 grandkids and she wanted to make sure those grandkids had a bright and prosperous future and she knew that for that to happen we needed a president that knew how to get this economy working for the American people."

When Romney finished his brief address in the first gym, he proceeded across the hallway to another large gym, where advance staffers and Secret Service officers had hastily constructed a second speaking area in front of a set of bleachers packed with another thousand supporters who Romney called upon to support him Tuesday.

All of this bodes well for Romney's Super Tuesday delegate haul, which could be buoyed by a strong showing here. Idaho awards 32 delegates proportionally in its caucuses. The state's governor, Butch Otter, was one of the first governors in the nation to back Romney, and Sen. Mike Risch is also a Romney backer. Romney's first ad here -- a positive one -- went up yesterday.

While Romney had already dropped out by the time Idaho voted in 2008, he is a well-known commodity here. The state borders Utah, where Romney's Olympics reputation remains strong, and nearly a quarter -- 23% -- of Idahoans are members of the LDS Church, the second highest percentage of any state in the nation outside Utah.