By Anne Hull
The Washington Post
VALRICO, Fla. — The first thing Emma Runion did when she woke up Wednesday was to go out into the yard and pull up the signs. Sunrise was still two hours away, the Spanish moss hanging silvery in the darkness, as Runion brought them inside the garage. The yard looked empty. Wiped clean. It had to be done.
“For my own psyche,” said Runion, a 58-year-old Republican and tea party activist. “If I drive home with the signs in the yard, it’s rubbing salt in the wound.”
The wound was wide open Wednesday morning, the dawn of Four More Years. Although Runion campaigned tirelessly for Mitt Romney, walking a precinct every Saturday as a volunteer with the Hillsborough County Republican Party, her drive came from a larger mandate, shared by many of her fellow volunteers: ABO, or Anyone But Obama.
Four More Years is a long time — enough to dampen the spirit. But the opposite was true for Emma Runion. “The battle is lost, the war is not,” she said. “And it begins today.”
The day after the election, as Republican strategists diced the demographics of their loss — Hispanics and young people went with President Barack Obama — the push was already on to make the GOP more inclusive and reflective of the country. The party needed to gather up more of the middle. In other words, it needed to tame the tea partyers who had moved the party to the right.
It was precisely this mentality that energized Emma Runion and her husband, John, to dig in even harder.
After gathering her signs Wednesday morning, Emma went to her computer. First she scanned it for spyware. “Hackers were very busy last night,” she said. Her second order of business was dropping Fox News as her home page, annoyed with the network for pitching in the towel so early and calling Obama the winner. Her new home page: the Blaze, the Glenn Beck-run news site.