Here at CPAC Mitt Romney is being introduced by an exciting new GOP star: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
The new order honors the old.
She gains huge cheers from the crowd when she announces that every election in South Carolina requires voter ID before you vote and she dips
into the Obamacare debate and says "as long as I am the Governor of South Carolina we will not" enroll in Obamacare through the federal government "on Barack Obama's watch."
And now Mitt Romney comes out to huge cheers from this immense crowd. Very upbeat -- loud and sustained. Very enthusiastic.
"You've touched my heart again," Romney tells the audience as he clasps his chest.
He's saying "thank you" now again and again to this ardent audience.
He says he was honored and humbled to have represented the GOP and now he says "we must learn from my mistakes and take back the White House and the Senate."
He says his campaign has in no way disheartened him but rather it's strengthened his faith in America and increased his optimism. And he says he's more upbeat than ever about the future of the country and the party.
He says he feels this way because of all the Americans he met during the campaign: faithful people, hard-working people, decent people. He says that Americans are good people and he prays we will always be worthy of God's grace.
He says the future and the road to success can be found amidst the 30 Republican governors throughout the country: smaller government, tough decisions, pension reform, school choice. He also says we need to learn from the GOP governors in blue and purple states and he specifically mentions New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, among several others.
He's gracious -- offering praise and opening doors to the next generation.
He says American leadership must stay strong throughout the world because "freedom depends on America."
All this time we're sitting next to two young people (both in their twenties) who are howling with delight and we are surrounded by young people who are being inspired and reassured by Romney's remarks.
He's telling poignant, personal stories
and the stories are uplifting and genuine. There's no pathos here and
no begrudging of any kind.
"I'm sorry I won't be your president but I will be your co-worker and I'll work shoulder-to-shoulder alongside you."
It's bittersweet and sounds almost like a farewell.
But what he's saying is: I'm grateful. I'll never forget you. It's still your country and your party. I'm hopeful and optimistic and I'm still one of you and here if you need me. But I won't be in a leadership role anymore.
The only thing he left out was "Goodbye."