After a year and a half of campaigning by Obama and Romney, it all gets decided Tuesday -- or at least that's what we hope.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- It was somehow fitting that Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign should end here, in a raucous basketball arena a few minutes to midnight, the air thick with fog-machine haze and the smell of popcorn, and much of the crowd obviously and boisterously drunk.
A girl in a jean skirt was asleep or passed out on the floor in front of the press riser. Kid Rock had played a rockin' set, winding up with Romney's theme song, "Born Free," which he crooned from atop a piano festooned with stickers, including one reading "BADASS." The audience of 12,000 brandished inflatable thundersticks, red-white-and-blue glow sticks, "Women for Mitt" signs and, in one case, a placard in support of both Aerosmith and the fringe candidate Vermin Supreme.
"Thank you to Kid Rock. That was fabulous," Romney said. It was his fifth speech and fourth state of the day, and he sounded tired, though naturally not a hair was out of place. "Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow," he said.
Since the beginning, Romney's second try for the presidency has revolved around a dignified man forced to adapt to undignified circumstances, starting with the primary in which he had to best such rivals as Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain. He had begun his campaign a year and a half earlier on a picturesque New Hampshire family farm, the sort of nostalgic Americana setting Romney favors. But as the circus of 2012 came to a close, he was ending amid spilled beer and boorish shouting, his name on the Jumbotron.