"Heh heh, we're here, after that landslide in Iowa ... really like to do a little better here ... like to double that. Heh heh."

On a makeshift stage in a school gymnasium -- "Home of the Astros", the scoreboard reads, "courtesy, respect, responsibility" -- Mitt Romney is working the room. It's 8am on a Saturday morning, a raw day, and the doors let the cold air in, as people stream through. They've been coming in for half an hour or more, rugged up New Englanders in padded windbreakers, and jackets made from horse-blankets, in the hundreds, to the undisguised amazement of the travelling media contingent.