EXETER, New Hampshire (CNN) – Barack Obama’s starting to talk about his fall campaign as a matter of when, not if – and so are some of his potential general election opponents.
Obama may be running neck-and-neck with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in most polls of New Hampshire’s Democratic voters, but "I know once I win this Democratic nomination that the folks on the other side will come after me with everything they've got,” he told an Exeter, New Hampshire crowd Saturday. “They will try to Swiftboat me," he said.
Obama was referring to the attacks faced by Sen. John Kerry after he captured the Democratic nomination in 2004.
Republican Mitt Romney, in a close race of his own in the Granite State’s GOP primary, is trying to use Obama’s momentum to make the case against rival John McCain. The former Massachusetts governor told voters this weekend that "It’s time for someone to stand up to Barack Obama, who I think has a good chance of becoming the nominee. He's running against two long serving senators who talk about their experience, and he blows them away.
"Are we going to do the same and put up another long serving senator as our nominee?"
Romney’s had one eye on his rivals, and another on Obama, for a while now - his campaign sent out press releases targeting the Illinois senator on taxes before he won Iowa’s Democratic caucuses.
–CNN's Jessica Yellin and Peter Hamby