- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Fresh off a debate performance he spent highlighting American stories, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday peppered his campaign stump speech with those same kinds of personal anecdotes.

During his speech, he pointed to a 14-year-old facing leukemia, a quadriplegic friend who spent his life working for spinal injury research and a woman, Jane Horton – whose husband Spec. Chris was a sniper in the Oklahoma National Guard and died last year – who now works to help other Gold Star families that have lost someone in battle.

“This is a time when some very misguided people were protesting at the funerals of our service men and women, you recall that? And they came to the funeral for her husband, and she was asked, ‘what do you think about this?’” Mr. Romney recounted. “She said, ‘Chris died for them to be able to protest.’ This is quite a nation we live in, with extraordinary people.”

Throughout much of the campaign, Mr. Romney has struggled to connect with voters. In the most recent Washington Times/Zogby Poll released earlier this week, voters were far less likely to say they felt they knew Mr. Romney than they were to say they knew President Obama.

But in Wednesday’s debate, Mr. Romney went in with a strategy of trying to exude personal warmth – and it worked.

Early on, he talked about meeting a man who owns an electronics business in St. Louis who calculated he pays more than 50 percent of his revenue in federal, state and local taxes.

He then pivoted to talk about a mom he met in New Hampshire who said she couldn’t afford health insurance for her son, and another couple in Wisconsin who ran a business but said they were considering dropping their insurance coverage because they could no longer afford it.

Such personal stories had been the trademark of Mr. Obama’s speeches. But Mr. Romney won rave reviews for his own foray into those kinds of anecdotes at the debate, and on Friday in Florida used them to make a connection with his crowd.

He commenced telling a story of meeting World War II veterans at an airport in Toledo, Ohio, when a woman in the front of the crowd whooped.

“A Toledo girl, right there, and in the front row. Wow,” Mr. Romney said.

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