"Jobs is job one under my administration. We're going to get America working again by helping small business," Romney said, debuting a new line midway through his standard campaign speech.
He was introduced — briefly — by former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, who took the stage as an AC/DC rock song played and the crowd erupted with cheers. It was Romney's first event with voters since Friday, as he spent the weekend at home in Massachusetts raising money and preparing for the debate.
Romney, whose campaign slogan is "Believe in America," declared his love of country and said the voters who showed up to hear him were demonstrating their own care for the nation.
"I love America. I love the beauty of its rocks and rills and templed hills but a lot more than that I love the beauty of the American soul," Romney said. "The fact that you're here tonight, the fact that you care about an election shows how much we care in America."
Romney spent yet another morning Monday with Portman and top aides at a Boston-area hotel, getting ready for Wednesday night. He boarded his logo-plastered campaign plane in the afternoon, joined by nearly all of his top advisers: strategist Ed Gillespie, longtime aides Beth Myers and Peter Flaherty, confidante and former colleague Bob White, and top strategist and admaker Stuart Stevens.
The only adviser to speak formally with reporters on the Monday flight was spokesman Kevin Madden, who downplayed expectations for the first matchup with Obama.
"We do see it, again, as not one event but these next 35-plus days as a larger conversation that we're going to be having with voters that includes debates," Madden said.KASIE HUNT,Associated PressKASIE HUNT,Associated Press