Anger and paranoia were in the air Monday at Denver’s “Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum,” where Mitt Romney held an evening campaign rally. Draped from the hangar rafters was, of course, a massive American flag; miniature American flags were distributed to rally-goers for waving purposes. So, fittingly, Romney mused about “the beauty of the American soul” and related themes. “I love America!” he declared. “I love you.”
The candidate had already been in town preparing for tomorrow’s first presidential debate at the University of Denver. Current polling data and demographic trends suggest that he is highly unlikely to win Colorado, which gave the rally a throwaway feel – as if put on exclusively for the TV cameras and traveling press corps.
Ken Carpenter, 73, and his wife Paula were in attendance; Ken wore a Romney “pilot wings” lapel pin, which were being distributed outside the venue. An Air Force veteran, he contended that Barack Obama is in the process of “systematically destroying America.”
“Have you seen 2016?” Carpenter asked me.
By this, he was referring to “2016: Obama’s America,” the conspiracy propaganda film produced by former Reagan Administration official and “public intellectual” Dinesh D’Souza. Already the fourth-highest grossing documentary of all time, it is a noxious melange of xenophobic conspiracy theories and lies. “I hadn’t considered the anti-colonial stuff,” said Carpenter, remarking on one of the film’s central themes – that Obama seeks to purposefully bankrupt and bring about the downfall of America, thereby fulfilling his estranged father’s anti-Western ambitions, with the ultimate aim of imposing — as Carpenter put it — a “socialist/communist state.”
“Look what he’s done to our Army,” Carpenter said of the president. “No one is scared of us any more!” As a senior citizen, he was also very concerned about the potentially tyrannical impact of healthcare reform. “I’ll be told to take two aspirin and die,” Carpenter said, invoking the age-old “death panels” trope.
But despite the specter of America’s imminent destruction, the rally took on a festive tone. Romney was introduced by John Elway, the two-time Superbowl champion and
owner executive vice president for football operations of the NFL’s Denver Broncos — “a pretty darn good football team,” Romney remarked, calling Elway an “extraordinary man.” Both are adherents of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
As Romney’s address proceeded, it became clear that the museum’s sound system was deeply flawed. “I can’t hear a word he’s saying!” exclaimed a woman standing near me. Thankfully, however, occasional phrases and “zingers” were audible. Romney pledged to “help middle income Americans have a better future,” certainly a departure from his assertion back in May that 47% of the voting public, including quite a few “middle income” folks, are not even worth appealing to for support given their indolence and dependence on government.
When Romney made some comment castigating organized labor, the same woman who could not hear shouted, “That’s why I got laid off! Stupid unions.”
“The American people are going to have to make their choice as to what path America takes,” Romney proclaimed, because Obama has “fought for a bigger government.” He then went on to decry upcoming sequestration cuts to the military budget, thereby calling for a bigger government.
Steve Haworth, of Aurora, CO – who wore an Air Force cap — seconded Romney’s sentiments in affirming that Obama has abandoned the U.S. armed forces. “Can you imagine any president that would sign a sequestration of the military?” he asked. “Who’d go around apologizing to our enemies?” I requested one example of an enemy to whom Obama has gone around apologizing. “The Arab World,” Haworth replied. “His first interview to any press was with Al Jazeera.” (Not true, of course, but whatever.)
“He’s playing around in Afghanistan,” Haworth continued. But wait, I noted – didn’t Obama escalate the number of groundtroops in Afghanistan? “Only against his will,” he said.
But here was the kicker, according to Haworth: “He went to Cairo and said this is not a Christian country.” Uh huh. At this point, Haworth’s female companion yanked him away.
Among Obama’s many affronts to the military include his failure to pay respects at the Tomb of the Unknown on Memorial Day 2009, posited Ellie, a woman from Aurora who wore an American Flag sweater. Additionally, she said, he “didn’t wear a flag on his lapel till he had to.” Judi, also from Aurora (both women declined to provide a surname) said one of the reasons she supports Romney is because he “believes in God,” unlike Obama.
“We need leadership in this country,” Ellie enjoined, “and Romney will stay in Washington, not be out playin’ golf and traveling around the country.”
Claudine Schwartz-Feagin, of Englewood, CO, exited the rally wearing an official Romney/Ryan campaign t-shirt which blared the words, “Government Didn’t Build my business! I did.” She noted that she and her late husband “built” a realty company in the 1970s without any help from government. “If he hadn’t been sick,” Claudine said of her husband, “I would’ve sent more money to Romney’s campaign.” But with medical costs and other expenses, she has been unable.