They laughed at her jokes. They applauded her ideas. They joined her in bemoaning the state of the nation.
And when National Party leader Judith Collins held court at a public meeting at the Taupō Yacht Club today there was nary a voice of dissent - well okay, just one, a man who bravely called out "is that more than you guys?" when the topic of the Coalition Government's failure to build enough new houses came up. Unfortunately for him, few of the crowd heard.
The room was Collins', although Taupō MP Louise Upston was there in support, along with Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown. The trio was joined later outside the Great Lake Centre by Tauranga MP and former National Party leader Simon Bridges, to announce National's new law and order policy.
With an estimated 400 or so people crammed into the Taupō Yacht Club, with more of half of them having to stand, the turnout was clearly a surprise to organisers, but Collins, despite a busy day, was on good form.
She paid tribute to her "fabulous" colleague Upston for her work in the Taupō electorate and in the social development portfolio and introduced Brown before going on to hit National Party campaign themes - the economy, law and order, the Resource Management Act, the rights of landlords. There were a few jokes ("160 years - that's older than Winston Peters", "Kelvin Davis is probably a very nice person but I've never noticed it"), complete with arched eyebrow, but the mood grew sombre as Collins talked about debt, the economy and Covid-19.
She pledged lots of new roads, to roll back changes to residential tenancies and said if elected, a National Government would get rid of the Resource Management Act - "it has to go, and it will go", while acknowledging that National made a "critical mistake" in embracing the RMA during its previous terms in Government.
Collins said the euthanasia referendum was a conscience issue which she had personally supported, although Upston and Brown both had different views, but she did not support legalising cannabis - "I doubt very much you would see a decrease in use".
She wound up by taking a few questions then wrapped up in the forthright style she is known for.
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