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A Small Number of Sooners For Romney

By Glenn Kessler
OKLAHOMA CITY--The aircraft hangar was vast. The crowd was not.

Of all the small rallies Mitt Romney has held in the past two days, this ersatz rally was the smallest. The former governor of Massachusetts touched down here on his way to California, hoping the refueling stop would add power to his race here for Oklahoma's 41 delegates.

All of the recent polls show him in third place, behind even Mike Huckabee, who Romney has suggested should drop out of what he calls a "two-man race."

Romney's rally barely filled one-tenth of the hangar. The crowd of a few dozen supporters was mostly gathered behind Romney, on a set of rafters, so he only addressed the eight television cameras arrayed in front of him. Before the candidate arrived, the crowd sounded very much like a large family picnic on a sunny day: About half of the people attending the rally were young children who won't be able to vote until a few more presidential cycles pass.

Toddlers wandered about while the older children held up hand-painted signs, declaring "Sooners 4 Romney" or "Romney, the Sooner the Better." One 10-year-old even held up a blue-and-pink sign that best captured the moment: "Kids for Romney."

The candidate, who has perfected the under-10-minute campaign speech, ran through his litany of attack lines against John McCain and his promise to keep the Republican party in "the House of Ronald Reagan." He mocked McCain for once saying the economy was "not his strong suit," and pointed to his past as a business executive. "The economy is my strong suit," he said.

Pointing to all the children surrounding him, Romney declared, "I'm running for all the little ones here."

Within seven minutes, the speech was done--just in time to hit the 6 o'clock news.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 4, 2008; 6:45 PM ET
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