HOLLAND, Mich. — If there was ever a time that likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney didn’t have to worry about hecklers and protestors, it was here in the conservative capital of Michigan. Romney was even introduced with the line, “Things are going to get a little wild here in West Michigan.” The crowd ate it up. And mind you, this is Mitt Romney we’re talking about.

Romney has no problem getting his conservative base excited. Most are content with anyone who speaks of “freedom” instead of that dreaded word, “change.” But while this support from conservatives may translate into campaign donations, it doesn’t help the fact that Barack Obama won Michigan in 2008 by a substantial amount: 57.4 percent for Obama to Republican nominee John McCain’s 40.9 percent. Obama will most likely win again unless Romney reaches out to the other side. He must find a way to convince Independents that he’s willing to compromise on certain issues.

But this is politics we’re talking about. And just like any (and every) reality show on MTV, they’re scripted, predictable and utterly ridiculous. And this episode catered directly to conservatives. Set against the background of a beautiful and sunny day on Lake Michigan, Romney’s bus pulled into a crowd of eager supporters. Dramatic music played loudly as Mitt and his wife, Ann, waved out the window. A majestic site for supporters, though slightly sickening for cynics. It was as if Justin Bieber had just rolled into town, and the teenage girls screamed as their parents rolled their eyes.

To his credit, this speech was slightly more substantial than the speech he gave in his last visit to Michigan. He discussed his vision for America and expanded upon the typical conservative talking points of freedom and destiny. At its core, however, the speech was no more than an expected attack on Obama, ranging from the dangers of “Obamacare” to the necessity to go “below ground” for energy. It was boring, really, and while the crowd clapped at appropriate times, nothing particularly exciting was said.

It seems as though Romney is embracing his “boring” label. He uses his wife as an obvious demonstration of the importance he places on family values, attacks every policy that Obama has supported and avoids the whole “Mormon” thing at all costs. This image has to make conservatives happy.

There was one woman at the event holding a sign that read, “Romney for President — of the one percent.” And while she was vastly outnumbered by Romney supporters (and received many dirty looks because of it), she represented the population who wasn’t in attendance: Democrats, liberals, and more importantly for Romney, those Independents who are on the fence, and may not be quite happy with Obama’s past four years. Romney has done nothing to win over those voters. Instead, he has played up his conservatism and left any remnants of the more complicated beliefs he used to hold in the dust.

With seemingly no option of a teleprompter in the heat and sun, Romney stuttered through a few too many lines. It showed just how vulnerable he really is without the comfort of his “beliefs” spelled out right in front of him. Romney knows that if he tries to leave the narrow path toward the Republican vote, he’ll flounder. But if he stays on this path, he’ll never get the votes he needs to win the state of Michigan, or the U.S. for that matter. And for that reason, I highly doubt things are “about to get wild” for Romney come November.

Adrienne Roberts can be reached at adrirobe@umich.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @AdrRoberts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *