Romney speech falls flat in Detroit

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The former Massachusetts governor also repeated a line that has been the butt of jokes by late-night comedians — that Michigan has good-sized trees.

“This feels good, being back in Michigan,” he said. “The trees are the right height. The streets are just right.”

Romney then listed the various cars he and his wife own.

“I drive a Mustang and Chevy pickup truck,” he said. “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. I used to have a Dodge truck, so I used to have all three [Detroit manufacturers] covered.”

Polls show Romney is back in the lead in his home state of Michigan, which is considered a must-win for him. The primary is Tuesday.

His speech was held at Detroit’s massive Ford Field, which holds tens of thousands of people, but only 1,000 or so attended. The campaign and the Detroit Economic Club, which hosted the event, sought to make the stadium look more full by putting the audience in one end zone of the football field and putting the cameras directly behind them.

But cameras showed empty chairs, and the Democratic National Committee blasted out photos that compared the crowd at Romney’s speech to the filled stadiums where then-candidate Barack Obama had campaign rallies in 2008.


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The campaign didn’t bill the speech as a major rally and, according to reports, did not try to fill the stadium.

Romney even joked about the cavernous space. 

“I want to thank Ford Field for making room for us,” he said to laughs from the crowd.

Most of Romney’s speech was focused on rehashing the tax policies he’d released earlier this week, and repeating attacks he’d made previously on President Obama. Romney promised to lower taxes and repeal Obama’s healthcare overhaul, comments he makes during nearly all of his speeches.

After an audience member asked Romney if he thought he’d have the best chance to beat Obama, Romney dismissed the other GOP candidates.

“I not only think I have the best chance, I think I have the only chance — maybe I’m overstating it a bit,” he said, chuckling awkwardly. 

“That’s my family leading the applause,” he said quickly, although no one was clapping, then laughed again. No one appeared to laugh with him. “It’s always hard to defeat an incumbent president ... the only way to defeat him is to have someone who runs against him who is very different than he is, who can present a clear contrast. I have not spent my time in Washington.”

— This story was updated at 1:52 p.m.