THE VILLAGES, Fla. -- This was the night that Mitt Romney sang. The candidate has developed a trope on the trail, a short monologue about the greatness of America as seen through the lyrics of "America the Beautiful."
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain!" In Iowa, he said that the amber waves were corn; in Florida, he pretended that the spacious skies were coded references to the space coast.
Typically, Romney will talk-sing the lyrics, sounding like one of Frank Zappa's narrations on the "Central Scrutinizer" segments of Joe's Garage. Not tonight.
"Would you sing it with me?" asked Romney. Hand in his pocket, he sang a verse of the song. The crowd of senior citizens and their familiars sang along. The press corps, drummed into bored submission by campaign speeches, shared a thought: Was this happening?
It was. There was no mention of Newt Gingrich in the speech, but there was a corny singalong that Romney had probably thought about trying for months. This was a candidate planning to grind his opponents into a fine powder tomorrow.