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Stephen Harper lets loose in Richmond

Edwin Huang stood outside his quiet Richmond home yesterday nearly speechless as he processed the scene that had just unfolded.

Half an hour earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper - channelling the neighbourly Mr. Rogers in a soft blue sweater - was sitting at the dinner table with his family while the nation's media jockeyed for a shot.

The same horde then trampled Huang's tidy green lawn as Harper pandered to middle-class families with talk of tax cuts, child benefits and fiscal responsibility.

And in the blink of an eye, the frenzied pack disappeared; following the PM to the next stop on his election campaign.

"It's amazing, I couldn't believe it," said Huang, a father of two. "[Harper] is very kind, he's a very nice person."

But despite the Conservative leader's dressed-down appearance, SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith said it was anything but a casual visit.

"He's going after the ethnic vote, no question," Meredith told 24 hours.

Meredith said Harper's trip to Richmond - his second stop on the campaign trail since a federal election was called for Oct. 14 - "fits beautifully" with his strategy to attract immigrant and middle-class votes.

But it also points to the province's growing importance on the national stage.

"B.C. can't be ignored anymore," Meredith said. "[Harper] sees a lot of votes in this province."

Matt Kieltyka reports for 24 hours.

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