TRAVELING WITH THE ROMNEY CAMPAIGN – What a difference four years makes.

Mitt Romney is drawing overflow crowds in well-organized barnstorm campaigning, skipping across the nation from Colorado and Nevada, to Iowa and Ohio, with side-trips to Florida, holding two to three rallies a day.

The Obama campaign is also in a cross-country blitz. But comparing the modest crowds Obama is drawing today with the unprecedented crowds that came out for him in 2008 begs the question: “What happened to the Obama magic?”

By the end of October 2008, the campaign of then-Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain was in trouble, as the momentum had swung clearly and irretrievably in the direction of Obama’s “hope and change” campaign.

But this year, Romney, emphasizing jobs and economic growth, is grabbing the enthusiasm from an Obama campaign hard pressed to find a plan for the next four years that successfully explains away the economic hardship of the past four.

Ironically, it’s the Romney campaign that has incorporated the message of “real change, real recovery” into the candidate’s stump speech, with Romney writing emails to supporters that read: “This has become more than just a campaign. It has become a national movement. Americans recognize we can do better as a nation than we’ve done over these last four years.”

That message is oddly reminiscent of Obama’s tactic in 2008 to run against George W. Bush.

The proposition Romney placed before voters in three campaign rallies Thursday in Ohio was that he could deliver where Obama had failed.

Red Rocks

On Tuesday, Romney drew a crowd the Secret Service put at 12,500 – the maximum fire marshals would allow – at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colo., north of Denver.

People of all ages began arriving at noon, ready to make the high-altitude climb from the facility’s many parking lots to the tiered seats of the famed outdoor music venue.

Romney campaign workers handed out red, blue, yellow and white T-shirts to those seated in the center of the audience in a pattern designed to form the logo on the Colorado flag.

The applause for Romney and Ryan in the amphitheater was thundering as the candidates promised supporters that this year the Republican ticket would beat Obama in Colorado, something McCain failed to do in 2008.

See video of the Red Rocks rally:

In 2008, Obama drew a crowd of 100,000 that filled the parks in front of the state capitol in downtown Denver. A crowd that exceeded by 25,000 the 75,000 capacity the Broncos football team draws at Invesco Field watched Obama’s acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.

But on Wednesday, Denver’s fire chief generously estimated just 16,000 came to see Obama at the modest venue of Denver City Park.

At Red Rocks, the Republican enthusiasts heard candidate Romney proclaim “What a place this is!” to loud shouts and wild applause accompanied by the clapping of thundersticks.

In Denver, Obama countered by claiming: “I love Red Rocks more than just about anybody, but it could never hold all of you guys.”

Mitt Romney speaks at rally at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado

On the low road

As the Obama campaign enters the final days, its message appears heavily focused on causes of the far left that are calculated to motivate the Democratic Party’s base in an apparent decision to deemphasize the large mass of independent voters to Romney.

Politico, a Democrat-friendly website, reported this week the Democrats have “gone all in for abortion rights,” noting that contraception advocate Sandra Fluke is prominent on the campaign trail, and Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, recently introduced Obama at a Virginia campaign rally.

Foreign Policy noted the sexually suggestive “first time” ad featuring Lena Dunham is a rip-off of a presidential campaign ad used earlier this year by Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Keeping Obama off the campaign trail for a series of MTV-like interviews may be calculated to appeal to college voters, but the strategy does not address the fear of graduating with large tuition debts and meager prospects of jobs equal to the educational levels achieved.

All indications are that Obama intends to run a negative closing game, as the Des Moines Register front page suggested this week, attempting to scare a far-left base regarding how much it will lose in social welfare and lifestyle benefits if Romney is elected, while Romney advances a positive plan to revive the economy, reduce energy prices and put the nation back to work.

If the Red Rocks rally was any indication of the mood across the country, the Republican base has enough energy to propel its ticket to the White House.

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