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Romney Dismisses Obama's Crowds

By Glenn Kessler
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney dismissed the huge crowds of voters who have been attending rallies for Sen. Barak Obama as simply an antiwar phenomenon, rather than an indication of his support by voters.

In recent days, Obama has held repeated rallies with crowds totaling over 10,000, numbers that have surprised many political observers.

"If you are the antiwar candidate, 'just pull our troops out, don't care about what happens to the future of a country like Iraq,' you are always going to get the antiwar crowd, just like Howard Dean did," Romney told reporters traveling on his plane as he flew here from Oklahoma City for a rally and news conference.

Dean, the former governor of Vermont, was briefly the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2004 but his campaign collapsed shortly after the Iowa caucuses.

"You are going to churn out big crowds of people who are all in favor of pulling our troops out," Romney added. "It would be wrong for the country but you'll get that crowd."

Romney said he was pleased at the attendance he had been getting: "700 to 1,000 at a lot of our events" -- which seemed to be a generous accounting, judging from rallies the past two days -- "and that's pretty good."

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said that of the 24 states holding primaries, caucuses or conventions Tuesday, for a total of 1,081 delegates, seven -- with 177 delegates -- are "looking good for us," while two others -- California and Georgia, with 242 delegates at stake -- came "in play the last few days." The seven states named by Fehrnstrom are Massachusetts, Colorado, Utah, Alaska, West Virginia, Montana and North Dakota.

Fehrnstrom said the campaign was braced for early positive coverage of John McCain's victories in northeastern states, but the West would change the picture during the night. "When we wake up Wednesday morning there will be a realization it will be a long, hard slog to the convention," he said.

Romney professed to be paying little attention to the tight race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton -- "it all sounds very interesting but I'm kind of busy on my own" -- but said no matter the crowds for the Democrats, the race will be a nail-biter in the fall. "When the votes are counted, it will be real close," he said.

Through much of campaign, Romney did not gab with reporters traveling with him, but in the last two days, he has held frequent in-flight news conferences. Asked why, Romney shrugged and said: "I don't know. It's getting looser as we get closer."

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 4, 2008; 11:07 PM ET
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