In his first day as de facto Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney came to Hartford to tout his business credentials and woo female voters. It is a classic trick of the campaign trail to make a decent-sized crowd look huge by cramming them into a tiny space and it worked well on Wednesday. Staged in the biggest room of a small print shop, people — including plenty of well-placed ladies — were virtually hanging from the rafters to get a glimpse of the potential president.

Though the Romney event certainly looked good on television, it is hard not to compare it to some of the images that emerged from President Barack Obama’s event at Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday. In that case, a 5,000-seat arena was filled to the brim with people watching the 44th President of the United States campaign for re-election his policy agenda.

The size of the room matters less when you challenge a sitting President of the United States because the stage is huge. It will take more than looking good on television to win; Romney needs to fill arenas full of people and then use his skills to blow the roof off the place with enthusiasm for his candidacy.

It won’t be easy but he has to do it because he is now engaged in hand-to-hand rhetorical combat with the President, an incredibly financed Obama campaign team, and the host of likely and unlikely combatants that will rise to join the fray.

One such unlikely combatant popped up in advance of the Romney visit. Andrew Doba, the governor’s communications director, offered this pithy tweet about an hour before the former Massachusetts Governor was meant to take the stage:

Wondering which Cadillac @MittRomney drove down from Boston today??? #RomneyinCT #ctpolitics

The interjection again raises the question about what is going on amongst the “Malloyalists.” Though they’ve been dismissive every time the question has come up about presidential and/or other higher political aspirations, they also keep doing things that provoke the question.

Not long after he was inaugurated, Malloy appeared on MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe program to pick a very public fight with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, saying, “Hopefully I take a slightly more intellectual approach to this discussion than Governor Christie has demonstrated.”

In the wake of Ted Mann’s twenty-part epic chronicling Gov. Malloy’s first year in office, some bloggers couldn’t help but note the connotation of learning everything there ever was to possibly know about Dannel P. Malloy except his shoe size: “Come 2016, the Democrats will be looking for a new hero. Who better than a man who overcame a learning disability, teasing, with roots in a small state? A man who looked the unions in the eye and told them to “get real”? Why look at our hero: He bleeds red, white and blue for the middle class. Dannel for President. Yoo hoo!”

Indeed, the smoke signals seem to grow more frequent as time progresses. Commentator Patrick Scully paid heed in January after Malloy’s reaction to the current president’s State of the Union address: “. . . it puts Malloy on same stand as the president — not the same office — but certainly pointing out Obama and Malloy agree on a vision. As someone who used to write these statements, I would have questioned the wording; unless of course, that’s where the boss is heading.”

Fellow CTNJ contributor Terry Cowgill hit on the same theme when Gov. Malloy was clearly prepared to take a shot at Gov. Romney in the early hours of the Health & Human Services religious freedom/contraceptives controversy: “Monday on Morning Joe, Malloy looked decidedly less impressive than he did last summer when he attacked [Ron] Paul in the wake of a hurricane that devastated Connecticut. This week, Malloy looked sort of like Christie sometimes does — a partisan hack sent out by party superiors to go after its enemies and defend its most controversial policies.” 

Mr. Doba’s Twitter account is, of course, his own and he’s entitled to his own opinions as his page clearly notes. One could as easily assume that the governor’s communications director offered the comment in an off-handed moment of pique. But he certainly knows his audience. That makes it much more likely that the effort to involve Dan Malloy in Presidential politics is just starting.

Heath W. Fahle is the Policy Director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Republican Party. Contact Heath about this article by visiting

Connect with Heath: