Denver's "Wings Over the Rockies" air museum was the site for a gathering of 2,500 hard-core political junkies Saturday afternoon. Karl Rove, "the Architect," sat between radio host Mike Gallagher and myself and answered inside baseball questions for 90 minutes.
Seven observations from the extraordinarily candid conversation, the video of which will be available at Townhall.com's "Tipsheet" blog.
First, Rove believes a Mitt Romney win is unfolding and could be larger than expected. Not 1980 big, but big. The president is stuck at 47 percent, a sign of doom for incumbents that even the best turnout machine cannot overcome.
Next, the president's mishandling of the events in Benghazi was scandalous, an obvious, terrible failure of leadership, compounded by the callous decision of the president to head off to Nevada and Colorado on campaign events in its immediate aftermath.
Third, Mitt Romney was right not to "prosecute the case" about the president's terrible failure with regards to Benghazi, but to leave it to others and even eventually the mainstream media to do so. So great is the failure that it cannot help but come out. Its toll on the president's standing is already large and growing.
Fourth, Ohio will go GOP, and the Romney campaign is handling the state's incredibly complicated politics very, very well.
Fifth, though Romney and groups supporting him and Paul Ryan will spend approximately $1.3 billion in the cycle, the president and his allies will top that number by 200 million. No matter, as the dollars were adequate to the task.
Sixth, the Senate will go GOP by a narrow margin.
Finally, the energy of the center-right grassroots is enormous and surging, a crucial component of next week's victory. It must be maintained and extended, and the storm will complicate it.
Our conversation about the Hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, imbued with a deep concern for family and friends in the region impacted, was fascinating. The mechanics of elections will be deeply compromised by the approaching fury. Into every seam opened by nature, human mischief will rush in even as first responders do their jobs. Watch that space.
Colorado's commitment to change was glimpsed at the massive Romney-Ryan rally at the beautiful Denver Red Rocks outdoor amphitheater earlier in the week. It continues to surge, and my colleagues Gallagher, Michael Medved and Dennis Prager and I saw the same enormous enthusiasm, from Philadelphia to Northern Virginia, to Florida stops in Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, and in Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, and Detroit. We talk show hosts don't often travel in packs, but it was a joy to meet thousands of listeners who are giving their all to put the country back on track.
Our smallest event -- a lunchtime gathering in Ohio's capital -- was also the most inspiring. Gov. John Kasich spoke movingly about the need to put small business back as the country's highest economic priority, and combat veteran Josh Mandel, a young Marine turned into Senate candidate of change, talked humbly of the duty to stand with our allies and provide our troops with what they need, not to slash their support via the sequester.
Throughout our tour, the wonderful Jon Voight spoke movingly of his support for Mitt and Ann Romney and for our ally Israel. A good and humble man who does not need to do this sort of all-in touring, Voight joined us, he said, as partial repentance for the significant mistakes he had made earlier in his life -- especially in the '60s and early '70s when the Left took hold of Hollywood and then turned its collective back on the slaughter in Southeast Asia.
Voight knows that people can and do change their politics. He appealed to liberals and former Obama supporters at every stop, to put aside their reluctance to admit error and to join in the effort to undo the huge damage of the past four years.
It is impossible to make such a journey and listen to such political novices as Voight and such veterans as Rove and not conclude that real and necessary change is coming, and that a very good, very competent man -- Mitt Romney -- will lead it.
Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.