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. Steve Blaine Washington

    It is a sad day if we don't consider the children born to US service members to be full and natural born citizens because they happened to be born while their parents were serving the United States overseas.

    There are lots of examples besides what you stated but the term was meant to make sure foreign born U.S Citizens did not seize control of military.

    January 4, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  2. NH Voter

    Romney spent $15 million for a second place finish in Iowa! That is not a good fiscally conservative message to be sending to the American people. I can't believe all these talking heads keep trying to push Romney and Giuliani (did he drop out of the race?)

    January 4, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Travis, NH

    I hope Mitt wins. He is clearly the best candidate for the job, and has by far the best record of getting things done. It's hard to argue that a man that can do what he's done will have trouble getting it done at the white house. My vote is on Mitt, because I believe his record of sucess in his private life (1 wife, good family, etc.) and professional life (no need to mention how he made is money) are the best indicator of his future success.

    Go Mitt!

    January 4, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  4. John

    Mitt Romney has proved his experience, his values and his character. He is the best candidate for the Republican nomination and the best candidate overall to save this nation from "more of the same Clinton and Bush politics" and as a hugely successful businessman who understands the US economy he is the best qualified to save this nation from the worst recession since the 20's. This naiton needs a President who has the family values to hold the nation together through difficult times, but at the same time a President who has the corporate know-how to turn our economy around. Mitt Romney is the only candidate with this unique combination that we so desperately need for the next 8 years.


    Whos cares if he's Mormon, Catholic, Evangelical, or Jewish.

    He's qualified for the job!

    Vote Romney 2008-

    He is the right man for the job!

    January 4, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  5. Jay Paul

    The Race is on, but we don't have a winner yet!

    The news from the Iowa Caucus is that we have new leaders in the Primary races. Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama have won what the Big Media called "surprise" victories. Don’t believe it.

    In the Case of Mike Huckabee, he appeals to the Republican base who want a candidate who reflects their Christian values. Huckabee also has a knack for speaking directly and plainly to people's hopes and dreams for their country's future. The media calls his style "folksy" but don't believe it. He knows how to deliver his message with absolute precision. I called him a dark horse candidate back in the fall of 2007; and it seems I can take credit for being right, at least for now. Big money was banking on Rudy Giuliani and he finished in 6th place with 1% of the vote. Giuliani is looking forward to New Hampshire where he believes he can do much better. Mitt Romney will have something to say about that. He placed 2nd in a state where he spend a lot of money. He could have done a lot worse, although I don’t know why his camp chose to stake so much on Iowa.

    On the Democratic side, Barack Obama was truly the surprise winner followed by a persistent John Edwards. Hilary Clinton expected to do better but don’t count her out. Iowa is no indication of how the rest of the country will vote. Clinton still has to deal with elect-ability issues as well as her image issues. Democrats want real change and Obama is banging the “vote for change” drum that worked so well for Bill Clinton in 1992.

    All I can say is no matter what happens; independent voters will decide who gets to be President in November.

    Jay Paul “The Seventeen”

    January 4, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. mc, Clearwater, FL

    I am a Democrat who would have voted for McCain in the 90's, but when he sold out and became a Bush backer he completely lost me. Huckabee doesn't seem qualified to me and is counting on his "likeability" to win for him, which has worked with Republican voters in the past so is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Romney has no credibility because of his flip-flopping. Giuliani is fading fast and on top of his family problems, shallow as this may seem, there are just too many pictures available of him in drag to make him seem presidential.

    I personally found Barak Obama very inspiring in his acceptance speech in Iowa. He seems like the one person who will truly end the partisan bickering that has left us in a stalemate for so long. I know he has the respect of some influential Republicans and Democrats and would likely surround himself with people who would make up for any lack of experience he may have. He is extremely intelligent and specialized in Constitutional law, which also gives me hope.

    All of you who think the Democrats will blow it by nominating a black man as their candidate need to take your blinders off. We cannot afford this petty nonsense anymore. We need to elect true leaders who will get our country back on track.

    Obama 08.

    January 4, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. George

    If Romney will be the 45th President, then who will be the 44th?

    January 4, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  8. Rob Collier

    Shame on religious bigotry in American politics – the only candidate for the White House is Romney. If this does not happen, America will reap a whirlwinnd of disappointments

    January 4, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. Les

    John McCain will win in New Hampshire.

    January 4, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. Fred, Cambridge MA

    To the people of TIME: Please stop your anti-Romney position. Romney isn't "on the ropes" and McCain, as far as I can tell, hasn't been 'resurrected.' Romney won twice as many votes as McCain in IA. It was a landslide victory for Romney over McCain. Huckabee is going a big flat nowhere after IA, most everybody agrees with that. So who's got the momentum going into NH? It's gotta be Romney. He was clearly (by 2 to 1) favored by IA voters over McCain.

    January 4, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Rafi, NY NY

    Jen: "What we Iowan's did for the country last night was nothing less than impressive."

    I'm sorry, I'm not impressed because a bunch of people showed up at the same place at the same time in cold weather. You didn't do anything "for the country" last night, you did it for Iowa. Don't flatter yourself.

    And if Huckabee actually goes on to win this thing, then what you did "for the country" last night was shoot it in the face. Did voting based on religion really work so well the last two elections?

    January 4, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Another Steve

    I'm happy to see Clinton and Romney get trashed in Iowa. They both represent the type of politics everyone is tired of, using large sums of money to run personal attacks agianst rivals with misinformation. In my opinion not the best choices. Way to go Iowa. I'm glad to see Iowa saw through the facades of these two phony front runners.

    January 4, 2008 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. Salem

    Apparently the liar Romney is going to start up with the negative ads again.

    It's a shame the empty suit has nothing to offer but more and more negative ads.

    I expect Willard Romney the Liar to start talking about "Change" now. He probably is starting to realize The War Mongerer has no coattails to get him to the White House.

    January 4, 2008 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Richard, Ewing, NJ

    Every Romney supporters,

    Mark my words: Your candidate will get a beating on Jan5th GOP debate in NH, and then he will lose New Hampshire on Jan8th. Only an irrational person at this point will think Romney can win. Huckabee has already set fuel on him by beat the huck out him in Iowa by 9 point. McCain will set the fire by crashing him in New Hampshire. Not only will Romney goes down, he will goes down in flame. He will goes down in front of everyone. By the way, do not even think your candidate has a chance for a nomination after New Hampshire. New Hampshire is his last stand. His entire strategy is based on winning Iowa and New Hampshire and uses that momentum to win the rest. Well, he lost Iowa soundly, and when he lose New Hampshire, he will be gone. Evaporate! A year from now, you won't even remember him, he will fade into history as Wesley Clark did before him.

    January 4, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  15. Dave, California

    Romney vs. Huckabee vs. McCain. We'll see how it plays out in the debate next week. Now that we've gotten past this religious junk I'm sure New Hampshire will think of some intelligent questions to ask. And when it comes to the debates, who clearly rings out on top? Romney!!

    We have yet to see a debate where Huckabee is a front runner (remember his rise came AFTER the democratic infiltrated YouTube debate). I can't wait to see his record ger trounced my Mr. Romney. He has yet to answer to the voters on the hard issues (pardons, clemencies, reduced tuition for illegal immigrants, "fair tax") and you better believe Romney will bring it up!

    Although it would be kinda cool to see Chuck run up on stage and kick some @$$.

    January 4, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. jagdish Kalkunte

    I hope aggresive campaigning does not involve corruption and fraud by any candidate in either republican or democratic party. Every candidate should aggresively put forth national policies that will guide them to be true presidential candidates rather than attack the personal characters of individuals.

    January 4, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Barry Wilmington, DE

    Mitt Romney is running for President???

    January 4, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. Patty Atlanta GA


    January 4, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Chris, Virginia

    I think the issue with Romney being mormon is that more than just Evangelicals have been brought up to view Mormonism as wrong. While I don't share this view, most Christians I know, moderate to extreme have been taught to view Mormonism as a cult. Romney simply doesn't have much of a chance at all with most Protestant religions, unless as stated above, he switches his religion. While I certainly hope this country can look past religion someday, it won't be anytime soon. Granted I live in a southern state and the views of more liberal states may be vastly different, but I simply feel there's 0 chance of him being elected.

    January 4, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Scott - El Paso, TX


    I'm in the Army and my daughter was born in the Netherlands when I was stationed there. We have her dutch birth certificate, an English translation of it, and a "Report of US Birth Abroad" from the State Department that all have to be maintained and used together whenever a birth certificate is required. Are you trying to tell me that she isn't a natural born U.S. citizen and couldn't run for president someday?

    I already know the answer but I am just curious to see if you will continue to show your ignorance and post inaccurate information.

    January 4, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. JB T F ID


    January 4, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  22. Anna, SW Missouri

    Romney used to tout the fact that he used to build businesses in foreign lands as his experience for foreign policy. I haven't heard him say that lately. Just something to think about.

    January 4, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. James E

    Romney is not going down again!

    Wake up people, Ole Huck won in Iowa because of 60% of the voters were evangelical or baptist christians. Lets look at the timeline and you decide the reasoning behind the momentum shift from Romney to Huckabee in Iowa.

    For months, Romney had a fairly steady lead in Iowa. At the same time, Mike was a nobody in the back of the pack. But despite Iowa being a strong evangelical state, Mitt held the lead for some time. And when did this change?

    When Mitt gave his speech "Faith & Politics", the topic of religion was brought into the spotlight of the GOP Republican race in Iowa. Before this, religion was not a major topic in the race. But after, it seems that the evangelical voters in Iowa based their votes only on the topic of religion! So, when you have a mormon running against a former baptist minister in an strong evangelical state, what do you think is going to happen?!

    Gain some common sense people!
    It is quite remarkable that he received the number of votes that he did. He is doing a great job, and is the best candidate for the presidency.

    "No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. For if he becomes president he will need the prayers of the people of all faiths."
    -Mitt Romney

    January 4, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Raymond, El Paso TX

    It's reassuring to see voters looking at the candidates and paying no attention to Karl Rove tactics or political attack ads.

    Corporate Romney's downfall will be his association with Bain Capital whose dealings with China are currently being investigated due to national security concerns. Americans will be reminded too much of the Cheney/Halliburton ties, no-bid contracts and a perception of backroom multi-billion dollar deals with defense contractors.

    January 4, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  25. Scott

    To all those who think Romney tried to "buy" Iowa...

    If spending money on a campaign legally and appropriately is 'buying' off voters, then well so did Huck and Obama buy their votes. Except they just didn't think the voters deserved as much money as Romney did.

    January 4, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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