If there was any immediate message from the Republican grassroots to Mitt Romney following his triumphant performance in the first televised debate with Barack Obama, it was that the Republican nominee had a great evening and now needs to take the ball and run with it.
With a just-completed CNN poll showing a whopping 67 percent of viewers felt that Romney won the debate and even Democratic strategist James Carville saying Obama had a very bad night, Republican activists who spoke to Human Events shortly after the debate agreed there was fresh enthusiasm for their candidate among the party grassroots that now needed to be mobilized.
‚??Judging from the texts I got tonight, people here felt Romney smoked Obama,‚?Ě Ann Womble, an activist in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania told us, ‚??and the people I heard from who are on the state Republican Committee say it was a big win for Romney.‚?Ě Lancaster is a major bastion of GOP votes in the Keystone State.
Veteran Wisconsin GOP consultant Scott Becher called the debate ‚??a very good night for Romney after it has been hell on earth for him in September. It‚??s almost like he had a sparring match with Paul Ryan to know how to stand firm for things. As to whether he has time in one month to turn things around here, that depends on Romney himself.‚?Ě
Noting that a just-completed Marquette University Law School poll showed Obama leading Romney among likely voters in the Badger State by 53 percent to 42 percent, Becher said the Republican nominee ‚??should be getting on a bus now and coming here — not going back to Boston to rest. He should get out with the crowds and show he likes this stuff and be the Romney of tonight for the rest of the campaign.‚?Ě He also noted that Obama will be campaigning in Madison Thursday.
Another party leader who sensed immediate enthusiasm for the GOP nominee after the debate was Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
‚??Romney looked stronger and got a significant boost tonight,‚?Ě DeWine told us. Citing a Sunday Columbus Dispatch Poll showing Romney trailing Obama in Ohio by a margin of 51 percent to 42 percent, DeWine said that, with a vigorous effort from the grassroots after the Tuesday debate, ‚??the race in Ohio will become very, very close.‚?Ě
Even in Michigan, where rumors run rampant that the Romney campaign will write off the state the nominee was born and raised in, Ingham County (Lansing) GOP Chairman Norm Shinkle told us flatly that ‚??any thoughts he has lost or is destined to lose Michigan are wrong. Tonight‚??s debate was like the Tigers winning the World Series for Romney supporters in Michigan. From the text messages I‚??ve been getting, I am sure we‚??ll have a big turnout for our ‚??Super Saturday‚?? when we mobilize the volunteers and canvass for Mitt.‚?Ě Shinkle also believes that the Romney campaign needs to make the case that ‚??the auto bailout was basically the administration handing General Motors over to the unions and if it makes that argument well, they‚??ll win Michigan.‚?Ě The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Obama leading Romney 54 percent to 42 percent in Michigan.
No one is making an argument that Barack Obama won or even placed in the debate. As far as grassroots Republicans are concerned, Oct. 4 will be the first day of the rest of the Romney campaign. The rest is up to the campaign — and the candidate himself.