CHANTILLY, Va. -- A few hours before Newt Gingrich will end his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney's campaign bus piloted through the Washington, D.C. exurbs and stopped at Exhibit Edge. A sign inside the warehouse hinted at why Romney had come here.
WE ARE A
women owned business
WOMEN OWNED & DIVERSE BUSINESSES
Romney and his wife spoke in front of an all-female backdrop. The theory was show, not tell -- the speech was largely gender-neutral, a shallow dive on economics ("this president has taken to criticizing success") and what I thought was a new zinger about energy. Brace yourself. (Close paraphrase.)
"He says he's for an 'all of the above' energy strategy," said Romney. "I think I've figured out what he means. He's for using all of the energy you can get above-ground! Well, I'm for getting energy above-ground AND below ground!"
It wasn't easy to find Romney swag on the premises. This was not a bad thing. I recognized some local veterans of the Tea Party movement and saw new Romney gear intermingled with the trinkets of 2009-2010.
The mood was respectful, less than enthralled. J.D. Reynolds, a retired Air Force chaplain, got irritated at the (successful) staging, which packed more people in a warehouse than could comfortably fit. (There were donuts, coffee, and water for those who waited.) But he liked the speech.
"He should stick to the main topics -- mostly the economy -- and he did," said Reynolds. "I want him to avoid these distractions. Osama bin Laden, as far as I'm concerned... the credit for that goes to hundreds of thousands of people over 10 years, and we should be happy and move on... the idea that Romney's against women is just ridiculous. Have you seen the Maureen Dowd column about that?"
"She writes that Republicans want to put women into chastity belts. That's just stupid. You know, my wife and I were in college when the 'pill' came out. In almost every case, that's a recreational expense. You're not against women if you don't want to pay for other peoples' recreation."
On the way out I spotted my first recorded instance of this "war on women"-era sticker.
And at the same time, reporters got this e-mail from the campaign.
OBAMA’S RECORD FOR WORKING WOMEN IS NOTHING TO BE “PROUD” ABOUT