Mitt Romney was going around the room shaking hands and signing autographs. His campaign speech was over and it was time for me to leave. But for security reasons, no one could leave before the candidate and his security detail.
I hung around talking to those who had come to heard him at this campaign event in Chantilly, Virginia, which was going to be a crucial state in the November presidential elections. All who came to hear him were likely to also vote for him, presumably.
Most of them told me they would indeed be voting for Romney, who, they said, was an honest man, a family man.
And then I ran into an aging Republican hothead, who will remain unidentified because for all his bluster he refused to give his name. Strange.
“You must support him (Romney),” he said, wagging a finger at me.
Romney is not a communist, he said, like those people there. He was pointing to a small group people holding anti-Romney posters.
“I am sure they are card-holding communists.”
And then, again, he told me to vote for Romney, saying the candidate needed the support of people like “us”.
“But I am a reporter,” I said.
“Who do you report for?”
“An Indian newspaper,” I said.
I was now expecting a harangue of sorts on how Indians are taking away American jobs, and I steeled myself for it, quickly summoning the full complement of my tried and tested answers. But the old man had other ideas.
“We Republicans have been very supportive of India,” he said.
“I know,” I offered, “the civil nuclear deal.”
“More,” he shot back, getting into the full swing of it.
I nodded. Now relieved that I was not in the dock over outsourcing I prepared myself to thanking the US for the millionth time for a deal that had not moved an inch since its signing.
“Support him,” he ordered me.
“But, how can I?” I said, “I am a foreigner.”
Now, he looked surprised, and offended. “What, you haven’t applied for citizenship yet?”
I really didn’t have the heart to disappoint hum. But couldn’t lie.
“No, I haven’t,” I responded.
“You should, you should.”
Now, he turned around to look me squarely, perhaps for the first time since we had started conversing. He looked at me half in disbelief and half in anger. It were as if I had sinned grievously, run away with his pet Rottweiler.
I tried to steer the conversation back to the reason why we both were there: Romney. But he had shuttered me out completely. And when I asked for his name, he just ambled away to a group of women, probably his family.