MOORESVILLE, N.C.—The full measure of Paul Ryan's political impact on the 2012 race is yet to be determined, but Mitt Romney's new running mate is already helping the presumptive GOP nominee attract some of the biggest crowds of his campaign to date.
Several thousand people turned out to see the new GOP ticket at a NASCAR mechanics training facility here—including at least 3,000 people who crammed into an overflow outside the event. It was the second day in a row of record-breaking crowds for the Romney campaign, including more than 8,000 who attended a rally in Manassas, Va., on Saturday.
In Mooresville, Romney was presented with his own customized NASCAR by legendary stock car driver Darrell Waltrip, prompting an emotional reaction from the GOP presidential candidate who rarely strays from his usual stump speech.
"My dad made ramblers. I only dreamed of cars like that," Romney said, motioning to the red, white and blue stock car emblazoned with his campaign's logo. "To have my name on a car like that, it's just too much."
When the two men took the stage, the crowd went crazy—letting out ear-deafening whoops and screams, prompting Romney to giggle with delight. "I love you!" one woman screamed at Ryan. "I love you, too!" the Wisconsin congressman replied.
Ann Romney briefly joined the candidates on stage—her first speaking appearance since her husband announced Ryan was his VP pick. She spoke about driving up to the event and seeing thousands of people lined up outside. "Do you see that?" Romney said she told Ryan.
She praised the crowd's energy, describing it as a "boost that gives us the determination to say we're not going to take it anymore. We're going to take the White House back."
Later Sunday, local police estimated at least 10,000 people showed up to a Romney/Ryan rally at a furniture company in High Point, N.C.—though only 1,300 were able to get inside for the event. By the time, the GOP candidates showed up just after 1 p.m., many on hand were visibly cranky—especially those inside, where there was no air conditioning. Most had shown up hours ahead of time to go through security at the event—and one man blamed his wait on Romney running late.
"It is unconscionable," Dick Durshall, 74, told a pool reporter trailing Romney, saying the wait and heat were difficult for a man of his age.