BOSTON – "The president is talking about Medicare today. We want this debate. We need this debate and we will win this debate."
- Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., campaigning in Nevada.
Romneyland is fired up.
The campaign headquarters of the soon-to-be Republican nominee has the air of a tech startup. Barebones furnishings, open spaces, lots of light streaming in and a layout that makes it hard to discern power structure.
Over here, a honcho sits at a conference table with his iPad and papers scattered in front of him barking into his cell phone. Over there, a worker bee sits in an office, quietly emailing away. ("She has real work to do," the barking honcho would later joke.)
The campaign HQ is also unusual by campaign standards because of its relative calm and order.
The traditional headquarters is profane and carries a certain air of aggression -- natural for a business dominated by high-testosterone alpha males. But Romneyland feels family-friendly and is more urgent than aggressive. Not surprisingly, given its leader, it's very businesslike here.
But on Wednesday, there was something else in the air: New optimism. After weeks of frustration as soon-to-be Republican nominee Mitt Romney took a pasting from personal attacks and after days of anxiety over Romney's chancy choice of budget hawk Paul Ryan as his running mate, the clouds were lifting.
A batch of swing-state polls showed Romney getting a bump, especially with independent voters, and the news of the day was dominated by stories about how Romney hit back hard against Vice President Joe Biden's stump-speech blunder in Virginia, where he claimed to a largely black audience that Republicans wanted to put "y'all back in chains."
The happiness at the headquarters was that of a platoon of soldiers finally in the fight they had long expected: foreboding giving way to the thrill of the charge.