Notes from a Republican Rally
Notes from a Republican Rally

Mitt Romney's Nevada campaign headquarters doesn't look like much when you first approach it. Nestled in a strip mall just outside Las Vegas, it shares a building with the local Senate hopeful and the local chicken wings place, I drove straight past it on the first attempt and had to turn back. But what they lack in grandeur round here they more than make up for with enthusiasm.

The small spirited crowd out back are an eclectic mix of families, veterans and tea party activists, waving American flags and listening to country rock albums with questionable lyrics as the sun drops behind the mountains and the smell of hotdogs permeates the air. It's not even the main man they've come to see, but his running mate, the young, dynamic but controversial congressman Paul Ryan.

Ryan has helped galvanise the right wing Republican base who have always been lukewarm about Romney. If the former Massachusetts Governor is going to win this thing on Tuesday he needs these people to come out and vote and it's Ryan's job to show them some love.

Many people have been fascinated by the rise of the Tea Party as a political force in America and I'm eager to meet some of them. Imagine my surprise though to run into an Australian member, Claus - who was born in Denmark but made his home in Sydney - has now been made a US citizen. Literally a few weeks ago.

Claus was urging the application through in time for him to vote for Romney and Ryan. He's friendly and eager to talk, "a lot of people say the tea party is finished but we're just getting started" he tells me. We discuss the different political systems in Australia and the US and he looks around proudly. "I love it when the circus comes to town though, don't you?"

Halfway through our chat a young campaign staffer rushes over and tells us Ryan will be speaking very soon. There may be protesters as well, she warns, if they try to disrupt proceedings we're to drown them out with chants of USA! USA!

In the end the protesters don't materialise but swarms of secret service agents do. And then after what seems like an age Ryan finally bounds on to the stage. The event has been billed as a 'victory rally' but this guy is smart and he knows not to let up in the final days of the campaign. "We don't have to put up with four more years of this" he tells them. "Let's make sure when we wake up Wednesday morning Mitt Romney is the next president of the United States."

He's only been stood still for about four minutes when he bounds onwards into the crowd, shaking their hands, 'pressing the flesh' as they sometimes call it. Then just as suddenly he's gone, on to the next event.

"Long wait for a short speech" says one old man. But everyone's petty happy with the performance. The country rock album has looped back to the start as the satellite dishes come down, the Republican faithful start to drift home while the Congressman powers on.

With just days to go and the polls still close, he knows every second counts.

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