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. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Jen Cedar Falls, IA January 4, 2008 10:47 am ET

    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.

    You couldn't be further off the mark, Jen. I was raised Catholic, but am now a pagan.

    And I'm a life-long Democrat who would never support an unworthy clod like Mitt Romney – even if someone held a gun to my head and said "supprt Mitt or I'll shoot".

    If this is the sort of "reasoning" you're using to choose a candidate, Jen, quit now while you're behind.

    January 4, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    I am certaintly disappointed in Iowans that they were so ignorant to some very important issues facing our country as whole, i.e. economy, immingration and foreign policy that Huckabee lacks so mightily. The battle continues and Huckabee will not be the winner at the end. Huckabee cannot be the Republican nominee for the simple fact that he is a hard-core liberal with socially conservative views – he is ¾ donkey and only a quarter elephant and that's not acceptable to the majority of Republicans.

    Be strong Gov. Romney! Show America that you are that fiscally conservative PROVEN leader that America so desperately needs right now.

    January 4, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  3. John

    Evangelicals voted for Huckabee 49% to 10%, yet he only beat Romney by 9 pts, so don't look at this as a referendum for the GOP from 300,000+ corn farmers. The rest of the country sees that we are at a turning point in our government. Dont think about who you'd like to live next door to or have dinner with, grow up and look at the challenges that will face our next president.

    There is only one man for the job: Mitt Romney!

    January 4, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |

    GOOD JOB HUCKABEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    GOD BLESS TO ALL--------


    January 4, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  5. Sean Boston Ma

    why do the mormons think that the reason mitt lost was his faith?
    if iowans are that bigoted how can you explain obama's showing??
    the answer is you cant...Mitt is a ken doll,a man who has all the convictions of a used car salesmen...ask massachusetts about Willards record here and we'll tell you all about him..Its over for romney,he paid 2000 per vote he got yesterday and still got beat by a snake handler from arkanas...its over Willard,time to go back to what you do best,union busting and venture capitolism at the expense of the american workers...

    January 4, 2008 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Mark

    Read what Rick from Syracuse said.

    Ths vast numbers of middle class and poor people in the US are sick of the Republican brand. Sick of pride and arrogance, and religion and patriotism being worn on a sleeve like a little flag lapel pin your wife can accidentally run thru the wash when you're at happy hour. Republicans have proven themselves at best unqualified, at worst – humiliaiting, in the eyes of the world.

    You can continue to argue about who can shoot more ducks, or who loves god more. It's not gonna matter. The vast majority of citizens just aren't listening anymore.

    Just sit back and watch the Democrats clean the floor with this crop of gomers. It's gonna be fun!

    January 4, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Joe K. Whiteside

    If Mitt Romney is not the nominee for the Republican Party, in Nov. '08, the Republicans will see their Party go down in flames against any of the Demo candidates.

    January 4, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Romney's defeat in Iowa had nothing to do with his religion and everything to do with credibility. He has done NOTHING to further the cause of the middle class and everything to crush it. He, one of the true "elite" has no clue or desire to comprehend the daily struggles most of us go through and would no sooner be a man of the people than Hillary Clinton. They are too slick, too pandering, and too arrogant.
    We sent them packing in Iowa, now do the same in New Hampshire and show these opportunists who is taking back control of this country.
    Maybe they can run for office in the Caymans with their offshore corporate accounts that nobody seems to want to talk about. Can you say "tax haven"?
    How about "traitor"

    January 4, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  9. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I understand that some republicans are laughing at their party in embarrassment over Huckabee's Iowa win. I guess they're wondering if this is the best they've got and so am I.

    January 4, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Bill Hunter

    I don’t know who started up the idiocy about McCain’s citizenship, but it was obviously someone who wanted to derail any substantive discussion of the issues. It isn’t McCain’s citizenship that I question, it is his record on campaign finance, votes against the Bush tax cuts, legislative deal making on Senate ratification of presidential judicial appointments, faux pa on immigration, etc. and his Bill Clintonesk blustering like a bandy rooster in an attempt to silence any criticism of him on those issues.

    As far as I’m concerned, Huckabee’s catapult to the top in Iowa has been largely based on his own innuendo and surragates openly branding Romney as a cultist. Huckabee's posturing is nothing more than a cynical attempt to throw up a smoke screen over his record on tax hikes, pandering to illegal immigrants, pardoning violent criminals, and lack of credible positions on foreign policy.

    McCain and Huckabee congratulating each other on their “positive” campaigns has got to be a sketch straight out of late night comedy shows. The hiring of “Hitman” Ed Rollins shows how calculating and cynical Huckabee is. It strikes me odd that voters haven't been turned off by the collusion on the part of Huckabee and McCain to derail Romney since neither one of them seems to be able to do it by themselves. It seems that it takes the two of them combined to equal one Romney. If they are successful will they get to have a third person on the ticket to be V.P.?

    January 4, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. jw, canadian,ok

    Looks like a deranged passenger in a B grade flick.

    January 4, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Jim

    Let me get this straight, if you don't like an evangelical person, then your not a bigot? And your not judging someone? And you know more than them? And you love others more? And you have a grip on the bigger picture? And you are more tolerant of others, especially evangelicals. No hyprocrisy here!

    January 4, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. J.M., North Hollywood

    Look, I can't stand Romney and would never vote for him but that's because he is a WAFFLER, a FLIPPER, a PANDERER.

    I was extremely pleased that he lost last night for those reasons.

    All this being said, I am getting the feeling that he lost because of his religion and that's not cool.

    What a weird juxtaposition we have between the parties, right?

    Iowa Democrats want change regardless of the source, come out in record numbers and vote a black man to the top.

    Iowa Republicans want the same, come out in record numbers and vote out of discrimination of a religion rather than intelligently stating more tangible reasons.

    One side embraces diversity while the other one fears it.

    Can't really blame the Republicans because just look at the field of candidates. When their change candidate is someone like Huckabee, watch out!

    It's sad times for Republicans.

    January 4, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  14. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    Don't understand how anyone can vote for a candidate that voted for the Patriot Act as McCain did..

    January 4, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. Garrett, Provo, UT

    If HuckaBigot and his Evangelical/ Born Again backers win the Republican nomination, there is no way that the Republicans would win the election for one simple reason: Huck would loose Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington (and maybe even Utah) immediately becaue each of those states have considerable Mormon populations (which overwhelmingly vote Republican) and many of those Mormons would never vote for someone so blatantly ignorant and bigoted about the Mormon faith.

    January 4, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Mark, Washington DC

    Excuse me MediaJunkie. Mitt Romney might have had those views before, but now it is different. He was asked in one of the debates why he changed his position. He said that he was wrong origionally and now he does not support his hold ideas. He at least said that he was wrong about something in the past and move on from there, unlike H Clinton for starters. He actually has some honesty.

    January 4, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Jeremiah, Phoenix AZ

    Until then, hopefully a number of other people can wake up (or also go to sleep for a good long while) and get over this silly talk of one candidate's religion over another. When you match up records and accomplishments among the candidates, it should be very clear that Romney is by far the most qualified candidate–see 23 incredibly successful years in business, closing a budget deficit in MA *without* raising taxes (something Huck would have never thought of), and using his innate leadership ability to turn around the SLC Olympics.

    I am definitely voting for Romney!!!

    January 4, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Greg

    I've almost always voted Republican, but if Huckabee gets the nomination, I'm voting for the Democrat, even if it is Hillary. (Shudder)

    January 4, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. greg,new york

    nice picture

    January 4, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Romney an openly BUSH Jr. supporter LOST!! Says something about Bush Jr., Bush Jr. Administration and Bush Jr. policies and his standing with American public today.

    Yes 43rd President Bush Jr. has cause for concern:
    Having cheated in two elections. First in 2000 from Al Gore who later got the Noble Peace Prize (just in case people do not keep up with the news!) through the Supreme Court then through rigging and SWIFT BOATING (it’s a verb: unfairly depicting someone) war decorated veteran John Kerry in 2004!

    With all the anti-Bush Jr. rhetoric that has helped Huckabee must be a DISASTER in the making for Bush Jr. if he is to venture to work for Republican candidates in 2008 election cycle.

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/ http://facts.hillaryhub.com/
    For a little national election snapshot: http://uselectionatlas.org/2008.php

    January 4, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Angelo

    What a great day for America Mitt Romney looses in Iowa after spending 7 million. The people in Iowa saw what a phony he is and hopefully the people of New Hampshire will do the same.

    January 4, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Jim

    Well... Iowa certainly was energizing. Fortunately, it has not been very telling historically...because it isn't a valid representation of the nation. No one candidate will appeal to every segment in America. Loved in IA but tolerated in NH, revered in SC but laughed at in NY. We are a diverse Nation with diverse ideas.

    Here is how I approach it, as a conservative R… Either Obama or Clinton will win the D party nomination. Hillery took a hit last night but is far from out. It’s too early to predict. Remember Bill didn’t win IA or NH in 1992. Obama was impressive! The win and the man were impressive. I have to admit even as a conservative R, I admired his speech. He sounded and looked like a Presdient.

    Who will Obama select as a running mate? Obama/Clinton (assuming she would even consider it) would be an incredible ticket. Clinton/Obama would be formidable. Obama certainly has the charisma, persona and belief that he represents change. But remember they are both Senators who historically do not fare well in presidential elections. So…WHO can best beat Obama or Clinton?

    It isn’t Huckabee! He will never stand up to the scrutiny that is coming. He’s not apart of the political/economic establishment that exercises immense influence in this country…and I don’t believe has the skills, expertise, financial backing or broad appeal will overcome that fact. His folksy style is appealing but where's the substance? I’m sure the D party would love him to get the R nod. He would be easy to beat in the general election!

    True he didn’t buy a win in IA, because he didn’t have to. What if NH had been first? He would have had to spend heavily there if he WANTED to win or even place. That’s not the case in the rest of the country where he will have to spend heavily in every other state (excepting SC) if he wants to win. Who cares how much Mitt spent in IA! Presidents don’t get elected without spending LOTS of money. If they don’t have it they are going no where.

    McCain will not beat Clinton or Obama! His participation in the “Gang of 14” destroyed any chance he may have had. Not to mention his age, position on immigration, and the fact that he is an old established senator who has not done anything in the past to make needed changes. Plus Senators are handicapped out of the shoot.

    Thompson is done! Stick a fork in him.

    Ron Paul? I love him …but no way will America elect him.

    Whuliani? Only time will tell if his strategy to ignore IA and NH will pay off or doom him. I seriously doubt he will withstand the intense scrutiny that he is going to receive as the primaries progress. He is too vulnerable IMHO to beat Obama or Clinton.

    So who is left, that can WIN? ROMNEY! The only chance the R party has to win the Whitehouse.

    January 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. JR Freeman

    Obama says he is going to change things. But he don,t say in what way.we mite not like the way things will be changed.better stick with Hillary some one that knows what she is doing. get some one that has tested the waters. thank JR

    January 4, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. Jim

    Oh BTW, Clinton and Obama spent as much as Romney in IA. They spent what they had to!

    January 4, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. Greg

    Why can't anyone spell the word 'lose' correctly?

    January 4, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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