LADY LAKE, Florida —The citizens of the Villages in Lady Lake, Florida, are used to visits from big politicians. How do I know? Because before Mitt Romney took the stage a day before Tuesday's Florida primary, we were treated to a Hollywood-style greatest-hits reel spotlighting past visits from former President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
The town square of the Villages was out of central casting for a Steven Spielberg movie, with patriotic bunting hung with care, rows of pimped-out golf carts lining the spaces of Main Street and the smell of hot dogs, elephant ears and popcorn wafting on the cool night breeze. As far as the eye could see, more than 1,000 fit and fired-up seniors mingled and watched the montages on a series of large video screens.
A giant "Florida Is Romney Country" banner framed by towering palm trees served as a backdrop to ... pretty much the same thing we saw twice earlier in the day. Except this time, we not only sang the national anthem, but we also recited the pledge of allegiance.
The feelings of good cheer and patriotic spirit didn't last long, though.
At one point before Romney took the stage, a crowd member interrupted a shoot with MTV's Andrew Jenks by yelling at him to speak up. I went over to speak to the gentleman, and he asked who we were with, since he'd never heard of MTV and was sure we were mocking him and his neighbors.
When I explained that we were traveling with the Romney campaign for the day and covering the election from a youth perspective, he shouted, "He's with Obama! They're Obama!"
I wasn't really sure how to react to that, so I shook his hand and wished him well. But I totally should have introduced him to that woman with the "don't believe the liberal media" sign.
You hear a lot about how the candidates give the same stump speech every time, but there are some telling nuances if you really pay attention. At the Villages, Romney mentioned that he watched President Obama's State of the Union address the other night and that he heard the Obamas had been to Orlando's Disney World recently. Then, he wondered, was the president living in Fantasy Land? Big cheer.
And this time, instead of just reciting his favorite verses of "America the Beautiful," he asked the crowd to join him in singing it.
MTV is on the scene in Florida! Check back for up-to-the-minute coverage of the primaries and stick with PowerOf12.org throughout the 2012 presidential election season.