January 4th, 2008
10:24 AM ET
6 years ago

Romney ready for Granite State showdown with McCain


Mitt Romney boards his plane to New Hampshire Friday morning after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses.  (Photo Credit: AP) 

PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, fresh off his stinging loss to Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses, arrived in New Hampshire at 3:30 a.m. this morning to prepare for a hasty five-day battle for the state that could make or break his candidacy.

"I let one guy slip by me, hats off to him," Romney told an early morning rally of supporters at the Portsmouth airport, referring to Huckabee. "We're not going to let that happen in New Hampshire, or anywhere else."

Romney, who spent over $7 million in Iowa and staked much his electoral success on winning the caucuses, is re-tooling for a different kind of battle in New Hampshire, where independents and fiscal conservatives, not evangelicals, are the targets of Republican candidates.

Shortly after Huckabee's victory on Thursday, reporters surrounded Romney press secretary Kevin Madden in the filing center at the Des Moines Sheraton, peppering him with questions on how the campaign will move forward.

Madden described Romney's Iowa performance as "a very competitive finish in the top two" and insisted Romney is the "best candidate to continue past just Iowa" because he can appeal to both fiscal and social conservatives in the rest of the early states.

But Madden made clear that Romney faced a different rival in the Granite State.

"We're going into a position that is going to be a battle with John McCain in New Hampshire," he said.

Madden said New Hampshire provided a "unique opportunity" for what he said is Romney's message of change, and suggested the campaign will attempt to paint chief rival Sen. John McCain as a beltway insider incapable of reforming Washington.

Although Madden denied there would be change in overall campaign strategy or tone, Romney immediately tweaked his rhetoric after his disappointment in Iowa and honed his message against McCain.

"There are some people who are going to try to convince the voters of New Hampshire and other states that all we need to do to change Washington is to have the same people go there who just change chairs," Romney told the airport rally this morning, in a clear reference to the longtime Arizona senator. Romney said that as a Washington outsider, he is better equipped to bring change to Washington.

McCain and Romney are tied for the lead among likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR poll released this week.

Romney had chartered a Jet Blue airbus to make the overnight journey to New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary on Jan. 8. The front of the plane was packed with Romney staffers and volunteers wearing Romney t-shirts over their dress shirts.

The rear half of the plane was filled with weary photographers and journalists, many of whom had spent the previous week traveling with the campaign by bus and plane around Iowa.

Romney sat in the front of the plane with his family and campaign aides. With his white shirtsleeves rolled up and sporting uncharacteristically tousled hair, Romney seemed a far cry from his normally buttoned-up campaign persona.

Before take-off, he casually chatted and joked with his supporters and thanked them for their support over the plane's P.A. system.

"Let's get going, buckle up, have some food, and we'll be taking all your cameras away from you before getting off the aircraft," he joked.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: John McCain • Mitt Romney • New Hampshire
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. Lori

    Go Romney! We're behind you!

    January 4, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Romney tried to buy victory in Iowa, and failed. Here's to his continued failure in New Hampshire. He would have been better off spending his money at Hooter's.

    January 4, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Allen Ridge

    Mitt Romney will go on to be the GOP nominee and 45th President of the USA. But he will have to do so without any help from America's corrupt wolfpack press who "hate" him. Especially CNN (Corrupt News Network)

    January 4, 2008 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Shannon, Charlottesville, VA

    Karl Rove called evangelicals "nutcases" after Republicans used them to install Bush, and they're falling for it again? Never underestimate the stupidity of the superstitious.

    January 4, 2008 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Nelson, Colorado Springs Co

    Mr. Huckabee brings something new to the race, he is reaching to America like Mr. Obama . I thing he will win in New Hampshire over Romney and McCain it time for change

    January 4, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  6. Jon, Charlotte NC

    i'm convinced that this guy is nothing short than evil. he has a very quick temper, will lie to get votes, will change positions in order to get votes, and has run one of the most negative campaigns i've ever seen. go Ron Paul for the Republicans, and Obama/Edwards for the Dems

    January 4, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. Steve Blaine Washington

    If John McCain is so eager to be President why did he not seek a
    Amendment to the Constitution either 8 years ago or 4 years ago amending or
    deleting the the natural born reference from the Constitution. The only
    thing he is
    seems to be doing now is trying to create a constitutional Crisis, a Civil
    or a military takeover of the government. Everyone was ready to pounce on
    Goldwater if he won the election against Johnson and Goldwater was born in
    Arizona but 3 years before it became a State. McCain was born on leased
    property in Panama.The Act he quotes sometimes as his eligibility was
    5 years later in 1795. See below.

    I am not saying that John McCain is not a citizen of the USA but I am saying
    that in order to become President or Vice President there needs to be a
    Constitutional Amendment defining natural born beyond framers intent or
    removing term from Constitution and 12th Amendment to Constitution.
    John McCain supposedly was aware of this information listed below because
    his spokeswoman Nancy Ives quotes Act of 26 Mar 1790 and on same page
    of Congressional records Act of 26 mar 1790 is listed as replaced by Act 29
    Jan 1795. John McCain has been aware of information for at least 4 years and
    undoubtedly could have succeeded in obtaining a Constitutional Amendment
    on the subject during past 4 years if he planned on running for President a
    second time.

    A requirement to be President and Vice President is listed in the
    Constitution and requires that both be natural born. The issue regarding
    President was in initial Constitution and for the Vice President was in the
    12th Amendment.
    The reason for both cases was to prevent someone not natural born from
    gaining control of the military and is the reason given by framers of
    original Constriction for inclusion of term for President which passed
    without debate or discussion.
    McCain was born in the Canal Zone in 1936 and the Canal Zone was leased
    property like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
    Around 2004 when John McCain was running for either the Presidency or
    Senate a spokesman by name of Nancy Ives claimed McCain was entitled to
    natural born status due to Act dated 26 Mar 1790 Section 1 &2 which stated "
    The Children of Citizens of the U.S. that may be born beyond sea or outside
    the limits of the U.S. shall be considered as natural born Citizens of the
    However, this Act was repealed by Act of 29 Jan 1795 Sections 1&2 which
    does not mention the words natural born because Congress apparently
    recognized that they could not change the Constitution by itself.
    The 14th Amendment to the Constitution also does not mention the term
    natural born either.
    So how does John McCain qualify to run for President without a
    constitutional amendment removing the term natural born from the
    Constitution and subsequent ratification by the proper number of States?

    January 4, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    The Granite State will be the next test for the corporate candidates, Clinton and Romney. NH is far more libertarian than IA and far less religious, which is great news for them. Romney needs to make sure that the Indies stay with Obama, and Clinton has to make sure the Indies stay with McCain. In addition, Romney needs to come out punching at McCain as does Clinton to Obama. Furthermore! Romney needs to defend himself from the assaults that have been coming and have yet to come, while Clinton has to do the same against Edwards, Richardson, AND Obama's nasty counter-punch.
    The best that Romney and Clinton can hope for is foul weather to lower turnout. Turnout is a win for McCain and Obama, the anti-establishment candidates.

    January 4, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Wayne, what kind of childish comment was that? Irrelevant and a bit telling that you're one of those 'holier than thou evangelical christians' is my guess.

    January 4, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. Scott, Madison, WI

    Dear Mitt:

    Just as you "saw" your father marching with Martin Luther King, I "smelled" a fake the minute you entered the race.

    Please stop with the Olympic-speak and quit stealing phrases from some of our most beloved national hymns – (e.g., purple mountain majesty, beauty of the earth) – for your treacly speeches. It really doesn't fit and causes one to think that your memory chip has shorted out.

    January 4, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. S.K.M. Boston Mass

    I heard that Edwards may actually be setting his sights on Obama. This would be a foolish choice for the following reasons;
    Edwards has LOST the argument that he is the candidate best equipped to bring change. He LOST the argument that he has superior support from union families. He LOST pretty badly in IA, and he's in a far worse place than he started in '04. NH is not Edwards country, if he IS setting his sights on Obama, then he's not for change but for HIMSELF. If he is setting his sights on Obama, then he's only doing Clinton and the corporations a huge favor.

    January 4, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Steve Blaine:

    When John McCain was born in 1936 at the Coco Solo Air Base in the Panama Canal Zone, the Canal Zone was US territory – just as every embassy we have around the world . The fact that it was leased property has no bearing on this.

    Since his parents were both US citizens and he was born at a US military installtion in US territory, he always has been andalways will be a US citizen.

    January 4, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Joe White

    Huckabee's win last night is by far the worst move evangelicals could have possibly done.

    Huckabee: "What people want is somebody they work with, not somebody who is their boss who could fire them."

    Oh really – do I want the idiot sitting next to me at work leading me? Not a chance, the reason why Romney is fiscally the most successful candidate is because he is the brightest candidate. Huckabee is merely a smooth talker, and nothing else.

    He's also a phoney. Yeah right he expects us to believe he is innocent of his negative personal shots at Romney's religion.

    "And many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord...did we not prophesy in thy name and do great works in thy name?
    And in that day I will say unto to them, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity – I never knew you."

    Huckabee is a wolf pretending in sheep's clothing. I'm a conservative Christian who supports either McCain or Romney for their Republican principles – and I won't vote for Huckster if he's the nominee. Republicans everywhere should take note – there are millions like me.

    January 4, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Cole

    Mr. Ridge, before you go on criticizing the news network that you seem to be using, consider the fact that George W. Bush is the nation's 43rd president. Figure it out.

    January 4, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. Rich Puckett

    I think that one very big issue that is killing Hilary Clinton is that she wants us to think she is the engine that will bring about change in this country. She keeps referring to her 35 years, she should drop that line. She was the first lady not the person elected to office for most of those years. Since she has been a Senator what has she done to bring about all this change wants us to believe in? Bill ran for office his first term it was on the promise of a national heath plan, so same old derrick. She was put in charge of that plan when he was elected and it failed to go any place. She needs to spend more time convincing us that she can make change and exactly how she is going to do that 35 years she has served the public and has made no real change.

    January 4, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    Steve, you've already posted this.

    McCain IS a natural born citizen.

    I was also board abroad to a US citizen and I'm a natural citizen.

    My son was born in Japan and is ALSO a natural citizen.

    What exactly is your motive in your post?

    January 4, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Garrett

    Ron Paul will surprise in this one. It's delegate count that's important, and long term sees three viable candidates left and Dr. Paul is one of them.

    January 4, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. Rick

    Your delegate count on the politics front page is the most irresponsible piece of so-called journalism I have ever seen. You are giving people numbers they do not yet have, making some candidates look much farther ahead than they are. Why would you post this? You say it is based on what people have 'most recently' committed to; but you are still giving Dodd and Biden delegates, but they have dropped out. I just don't get it. When did CNN stop being a news agency? Report things that have happened, not things that you think might happen. PLEASE return to journalism!

    January 4, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. Joe, Indianapolis,IN

    Uhhh....Allen Ridge...which gum wrapper did you get your presidential chronology from? A quick check of the facts would have revealed that the idiot son George Bush is the 43rd president now, so Mitt cannot be the 45th. If Mitt wants to be 45th, as you predict him to be, he gets in after Obama (the 44th) does his 8 years.

    A fact...use it as you wish!

    January 4, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. Bukky, Balt MD

    Good Point (Steve Blaine Washington) but any candidate that brings it up will be eaten alive because non of them have given as much to this country as McCain. I'm neither republican or a McCain supporter but I'd be tempted to punch anyone in the face that even brought this up....

    January 4, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Brian Price

    So now that Romney (and Clinton) got whipped by a wave of people wanting a break from tradition, now he is trying to tatto the "I represent change" message to himself? Is he for real? Is there no limit to what he will say – despite any semblance of truth – to get votes?

    He has credentials, but his inauthenticity is deeply, deeply disturbing.

    January 4, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. Trent from NO

    A "constitutional crisis", "a civil war" or a "military takeover"?

    From who?!
    I'm sorry, but McCain is much more qualified to be president considering the entire GOP field. Picking a technicality in the legal wordings is the job of criminal defense attorneys, not informed voters.

    BTW, I am not a McCain supporter, just a little amused by your post. I doubt the Dems are gonna lead an army into Washington if McCain got elected. And if they do, it's not gonna be because of his birthplace ambiguity.

    Kudos on your knowledge on the Constitution though, many American voters can use it.

    January 4, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  23. J Houston, TX

    Just say no to Huck. The man's a nutcase himself. A fair tax will do nothing but harm the middle class. The transition would also inflate the value of goods, meaning a sudden spike in asset value for those with large amounts of durables now. How are people so stupid to not see what this will do? The class of Americans that save the least will pay the most in taxes! This means the poor and middle class!

    January 4, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. A. Normandine

    Romney should never be allowed in the White House as anything more than a tourist! This man is a fraud and a panderer. Anyone that can't see this charlatan for what he is, is obviously not qualified to vote with sane people! Anybody but Mitt Romney!

    January 4, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  25. Jen Cedar Falls, IA

    Huckabee can try to 'choke him, knock out his teeth, etc' but Romney is not NEAR as defeatable as Huckabee against the Democrats. The Republicans need to consider this serious issue, it's been predicted on all the networks by both sides of the aisle and from every person I've talked to inbetween.

    The Democrats would EAT Huck up! Goodness, he cried to momma over decent and mislabeled as negative but truly factual ads here in Iowa. Can you just SEE how he'd cower from the Dem + Liberal Media Machine? This is why the Dem's and their press want him to win.

    Huck couldn't even put out an ad with him talking about his experience and views on truly important issues because he knows he doesn't want America to know what he did/didn't do as a Governor of Arkansas and what he does and doesn't know about the issues. That's why Romney put these ads out, so people could know what Huck's record was. Not too proud of his record or Huck would have hung it out there for everyone to see who he is. What in the world would he campaign on against the Democrats? That he's got quicker quippier wit?

    Remember what idiot remarks Huck has made so far? Just for starters I'll give you 3: 1. Vote for me or else (while hunting).....2. Pakistan under military rule (hadn't been for awhile)....3. I'm not going to release this negative ad, but here it is (where's the integrity in that one?). This is just a sampling, folks. The guy thinks he's a comedian and making jokes out of our country.

    Well, we'll see where his Gomer Pyle from the Pulpit delivery will get him in the next Primaries. Golly Gee folks, looky here, I won!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This guy and his delivery may be all fuzzy and silly for church, but not for the esteemed position of The President Of The United States of America!

    Return Integrity to the White House; support Romney!

    January 4, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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