Gov. Mitt Romney met with more than 400 supporters at the Westin Crown Center hotel in Kansas City Thursday. He met privately with some donors for pictures before speaking in the Century Ballroom on the 2nd floor of the hotel.
Romney was introduced by developer and builder B.B. Andersen. He spoke from a raised stage, flanked by two American flags and one flag from Missouri and another from Kansas. A small finger-food buffet and drinks were available but there were no chairs or tables. The audience stood. There was a single metal detector.
Among the locals of note introduced by Andersen before Romney’s remarks: Adele and Don Hall; Gov. Sam Brownback; Sen. Jerry Moran; former Sen. Kit Bond; former Sen. Jim Talent; Rep. Kevin Yoder; Ks. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer; Ks SoS Kris Kobach; Mo. Auditor Tom Schweich; former Kansas City mayor Dick Berkley.
Romney spoke without notes or a teleprompter for roughly 17 minutes, beginning around 6:35 p.m.
He talked mostly about the economy and his opposition to the policies of President Barack Obama. “I know you’re not doing this for me,” Romney said. “You’re not doing it for the Republican party. You’re doing this because you care very deeply about our country.”
He talked about entrepreneurship and women-owned businesses, and said times had been tough for them and for all Americans.
And he sharply criticized Obama for those problems.
“He’s out of ideas, out of people to blame, and we’ve got to make sure in 2012 we put him out of office,” Romney said.
The former governor said he would work to repeal Obamacare, to encourage more domestic energy production from underground sources, and make sure the U.S. military is fully funded.
"This can be the beginning of an extraordinary century for America,” Romney said.
He said Obama spends too much time dividing America. "That is not who we are," he said.
He told the story of a young woman, his niece, with a deaf child, whose husband was sent to Iraq with the National Guard. The landscape on their new house was unfinished, but he said neighbors helped put down sod and install shrubs just before the deadline in the couples' subdivision. "That's the America I love," he said.
He made no mention of the day’s controversies surrounding the story of a high school incident involving another student and an involuntary haircut. He did not mention Obama’s support for gay marriage.
Several Republicans at the reception said the event raised $1.2 million for Romney Victory, the combined fund for the presidential campaign, the state parties, and the national party. The number could not be independently verified.
A campaign spokesman said the cost of a ticket ranged from $1,000 to $50,000, and that 475 tickets were sold.
Romney made no public appearances before the event. He shook hands and mingled for several moments after his remarks.
He's expected to remain in Kansas City overnight.