BLOOMINGTON, Minn. Massachusetts Republicans crammed into a standing-room-only hotel meeting room Tuesday to hear from their "favorite son," Mitt Romney.
"You guys have been amazing to me. I know I've tried your patience," said Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who amassed a personal fortune as a Boston venture capitalist.
Romney, who raised about $6 million for his White House bid from Utah, received about the same amount from Massachusetts contributors, even though the GOP is much smaller in that state
He told the appreciative audience he may have twisted too many arms and raised too much money in Massachusetts. "I never heard anyone complain," Romney said..
But Romney didn't dwell on his failed bid for the White House. Instead, he urged the Massachusetts party faithful to back the GOP's presumptive nominee, John McCain.
"We may not be able to carry Massachusetts. We'll see. There have been some 'Reagan miracles' in the past," Romney said, urging the GOP members to work for a McCain victory in New Hampshire.
"This could come down to one state," he said.
He also stressed that unlike candidates who are in a race for themselves and feel "sour grapes" when they lose, he is firmly behind McCain.
That's despite being passed over for vice president in favor of the relatively unknown Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Romney has said he never expected to be selected by McCain for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.
Romney told reporters later that the surprise announcement that Palin's unmarried teenage daughter is pregnant should not call into question McCain's judgment.
"I think anybody who thinks there are families that don't have problems hasn't lived in a family. The families of America have challenges, and kids don't always do everything we'd like them to," said the father of five sons.
One of Romney's sons, Josh, resides with his wife and children in Salt Lake City.
Romney also said later he is still not sure when, if at all, he will address the Republican National Convention because of the effect Hurricane Gustav has had on the schedule. He said his speech, focused on strength, was well received during rehearsal at the Xcel Energy Center Tuesday.
He spoke to the Massachusetts delegation over a midmorning brunch in an upscale hotel not far from where the Utah GOP contingent is staying. Both delegations are far, far away from the convention arena in St. Paul.
Utah is not getting preferred treatment here because the state can be relied upon to vote Republican in November. Massachusetts Republicans, of course, are in the minority in their state, much as Democrats are in Utah.
Massachusetts GOP Chairman Peter Torkildsen told the Deseret News that it "would have been a huge plus" for the state party to have Romney on the ticket.
When Romney served as governor of Massachusetts, Torkildsen said he helped that state's GOP "in terms of profile" but wasn't able to boost the number of elected Republicans.
Still, members of the Massachusetts GOP seemed every bit as thrilled to hear from him as their counterparts in Utah were on Monday. Romney made the larger Utah Republican delegation his first stop after arriving in Minnesota for the convention.
Not everyone in the audience was a Romney supporter, though. Doug Bennett, who works for the Boston area courts, said he supported McCain in the Massachusetts GOP primary on Feb. 5 because he believes Romney is "too aloof. He lacks the common touch."Romney had a relatively narrow win over McCain in the Massachusetts primary unlike Utah, where he won a whopping 90 percent of the GOP vote on Feb. 5.