FISHERSVILLE, Va. - A jubilant Mitt Romney bounded on a concert stage here to capitalize on his strong debate performance last night, telling the crowd of thousands that Americans were finally able to see that he and the president "stand for something very different."
"Now, last night was an important night for the country because people got the chance," said Romney, immediately interrupted by cheers as soon as he mentioned the debate. "They got the chance cut through all the attacks and counterattacks and all of the theatrics associated with a campaign and, instead, they were able to listen to substance.
"I appreciate the fact that Jim Lehrer asked questions of substance and we each responded to them," said Romney, beginning to tick off a list of debate topics. "I got the chance to ask the president questions that people across the country have wanted to ask him, such as why is it that he pushed Obamacare at a time when we had 23 million people out of work?
"I asked him those questions and you heard his answers," he said. "I think as a result of those answers, the American people recognize that he and I stand for something very different. I'm going to help the American people get good jobs and a bright future."
Romney summed up the debate in single line: "What you didn't hear last night from the president is why it is the next four years are possibly going to be better than the last four years."
Romney was joined by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who emerged from extensive debate prep for the rally, which was one of the most highly produced of the campaign. Several enormous American flags blew in the wind and a full concert stage had been set up for country music star Trace Adkins. As a grand finale, there were fireworks. The campaign estimated that more than 5,700 people had come to the event.
Ryan lauded Romney's performance at the debate, calling it a "glimpse into the future."
"Last night, we saw a clear picture, we saw a clear choice," said Ryan. "Last night, America got to see the man I know - a leader, a decisive man, an optimistic man, a man with a plan to get people back to work and to protect our freedoms."
But both Romney and Ryan didn't dwell on Wednesday's debate for too long, turning to comments made by Vice President Biden earlier today about tax hikes.
"Last night, President Obama made very clear he's going to raise taxes. Today, Vice President Joe Biden made it even more clear," said Ryan, reading from his notes and referring to a comment Biden made earlier today in which he said that he and Obama wanted to raise taxes by a trillion dollars, before quickly following up that he was referring to their desire to let the Bush tax cuts expire.
"In Iowa … he asked himself a question. And he asked if he and President Obama want a trillion [dollar] tax hike and his response to himself was, 'Yes we do.' That's a direct quote friends," said Ryan, who did not read the latter portion of Biden's quote that provided more context.
"Well, Virginia: No. We. Don't," he said.
Romney touched on Biden's remark, too, saying that the vice president had "blurted out the truth today."
"They plan on raising taxes on the American people, and that will kill jobs. We will not let that happen. We want to create jobs, not kill jobs in this country," said Romney, adding later, "I don't want to raise taxes on anybody."