ThinkProgress filed this report from Des Moines, IA.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) first stop in Iowa – the state that will hold the first caucus in the 2012 presidential primary – came to a sudden end Friday afternoon when a fire alarm went off, causing Romney to urge attendees to evacuate the building.
Romney had finished his speech and was taking questions from the event’s moderator when a fire alarm went off in the Historical Building in downtown Des Moines, IA. The moderator had been questioning Romney on his lack of visits to Iowa and whether he, as a moderate former governor from a traditionally Democratic state could win a caucus dominated by social conservatives. Fortunately for Romney, he wasn’t able to answer:
ROMNEY: I believe in following safety first, so I would. … This is going to keep on going. … You know, discretion is the better part of valor, so I think we ought to be very careful and very carefully go outside.
Romney promised attendees that he wasn’t attempting to get out of answering their questions, and with that, the building was evacuated. The crowd and a pack of national media members followed Romney outside, where he spoke with attendees and autographed pictures.
At least one Iowan wasn’t thrilled that Romney was cutting his first appearance in Iowa short. A woman approached Romney outside the event and asked why he had decided to announce his presidential intentions in New Hampshire — which he will reportedly do on June 2 — as opposed to in Iowa. She also criticized Romney for not prioritizing the Iowa caucus. “It’s an insult to Iowa,” she said.
Romney finished second to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucus during his 2008 bid for the GOP nomination, collecting 25 percent of the vote. Romney is currently the front-runner in several national polls, but he hasn’t seemed to make Iowa a priority this time around. This was his first visit to the state in seven months, when he campaigned for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R).