An assured National Party leader John Key kept to the party message during a visit to Dunedin yesterday.
He showed no signs of any nervousness about the forthcoming election campaign.
In earlier visits to Dunedin, Mr Key appeared to lack some self-confidence and had leaned heavily on the local knowledge of list MP Katherine Rich as he was introduced around the traps.
Speaking without notes, Mr Key delivered from memory the bulk of the speech he gave at the recent party conference in Auckland.
Questions posed to him by members of the Otago Chamber of Commerce attending the “meet the leaders” forum were answered without hesitation.
A number of people have said that John is often far better speaking without notes.
But it was out on the street that Mr Key showed how much he had grown as a campaigner.
During walks in the lower half of the Octagon, George St and the Meridian shopping centre, Mr Key (without being accompanied by Mrs Rich) had no problem walking up to people, shaking their hands and exchanging pleasantries.
Ducking and diving into shops and over to people walking along the street, he showed a campaigning prowess he had not previously demonstrated in the city.
On walking into a hairdressing business, Mr Key was handed the telephone and proceeded to have an impromptu conversation with a caller.
He finished by telling the manager the appointment was all booked in.
People called out, “Good luck, John”, as he walked along George St.
I wouldn’t get too excited about this, and start predicting two two Dunedin seats are about to become marginal, but as I said this is a very leftish city not known for welcoming National leaders.
In another ODT story, they report that it is highly likely National’s list (due on Sunday) will result in at least one National MP in Dunedin.