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Romney's Every Town Counts Tour Ends In Michigan


Mitt Romney has wrapped up his most extensive campaign trip since becoming the all-but-official Republican nominee for president. Over the past five days, he visited six potential battleground states, touring each by bus. Along the way, he honed his attacks on President Obama, while also trying to show voters a more relaxed Mitt Romney than they've seen so far.

The tour, called Every Town Counts, stayed mostly in counties friendly to Republicans, ending with three stops in Michigan yesterday, the state where Romney was born.

Here's NPR's Don Gonyea.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: The Romney campaign's recipe for this trip included a mix of the serious and the almost-silly, though sometimes it wasn't clear if the candidate was joking or not. Take this line...


MITT ROMNEY: It's so much fun running for president, I got to tell you. It is...

GONYEA: Mitt Romney's past five days have included sometimes corny humor and always pointed political attacks from the candidate. There was a live polka band in Frankenmuth, Michigan.


GONYEA: And in Davenport, Iowa, a cruise on a vintage riverboat on the Mississippi.


GONYEA: Then there was Romney with his wife Ann making pies in a small-town bakery in DeWitt, Michigan, while a couple hundred supporters stood outside for a stop that had been publicized.


ROMNEY: We just came by to get some cherry pie, and we find friends all standing here. I want you to know that we really care about what's happening in DeWitt and Lansing and Central Michigan and all of Michigan and all of the country. We're concerned about the people of this great country.

GONYEA: But then this friendly banter takes a quick turn into an attack on the president. Most often, it's about Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. This was on that riverboat in Iowa Monday afternoon.


ROMNEY: I hope things are getting better. I think they are, in the economy. I sure hope so. But it's no thanks to him. It's in spite of him.

GONYEA: And then comes a topic that never gets left out: health care, and Romney's pledge to repeal the law signed by the president in 2010.


ROMNEY: Talk to the person who runs this boat, talk to people on the shore, whether they're in retail or distribution or manufacturing and say: Did Obamacare help you add more jobs? And they'll say no.

GONYEA: Along the way, Romney was also joined by prominent Republicans in each state, none more so than Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, fresh off his recall battle.


GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: We need a leader who believes in more freedom and more prosperity, a leader who believes in America and believes that our best days are yet to come. We need a leader, and that leader is Governor Mitt Romney. Let's give him a warm, Wisconsin welcome.

GONYEA: Romney, congratulating Walker on defeating the recall attempt earlier this month, made a prediction.


ROMNEY: I think President Obama had just put this in his column. He just assumed from the very beginning Wisconsin was going to be his. But you know what? We're going to win Wisconsin. We're going to get the White House.

GONYEA: Romney made a similar prediction about Michigan. President Obama easily carried both states last time. Polls still put him ahead, but Romney hopes to put both in play. There were protests that trailed Romney as he rode the bus this past week, but they were generally kept down the street and a good distance from the candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Hey, hey, ho, ho, Mitt Romney's got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho...

GONYEA: In years past, when a presidential campaign has held a big, multistate bus tour, it's been big national news with big crowds. This Romney tour seemed to have no such ambition. The events were geared toward getting lots of local, rather than national coverage. Crowds were modest at best, with plenty of lovely backdrops, including the final one of the trip: the candidate and Mrs. Romney avoiding shouted questions while walking through the sand on the Lake Michigan beach. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Holland, Michigan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

You're most likely to find NPR's Don Gonyea on the road, in some battleground state looking for voters to sit with him at the local lunch spot, the VFW or union hall, at a campaign rally, or at their kitchen tables to tell him what's on their minds. Through countless such conversations over the course of the year, he gets a ground-level view of American elections. Gonyea is NPR's National Political Correspondent, a position he has held since 2010. His reports can be heard on all NPR News programs and at NPR.org. To hear his sound-rich stories is akin to riding in the passenger seat of his rental car, traveling through Iowa or South Carolina or Michigan or wherever, right along with him.