Derry, New Hampshire (CNN) - The day after he emerged unscathed from his first appearance in a Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney embraced his frontrunner status on Tuesday, walking the streets of New Hampshire with a noticeable bounce to his step and a clear focus on November 2012.
With his Republican rivals declining to attack Romney during Monday's debate and doing little to upend his standing in the polls, Romney took a pack of reporters on an early morning victory lap through a diner in Manchester and several businesses in nearby Derry.
"I will probably be back in four years," Romney boasted to Brad Benson, the owner of Benson Lumber and Hardware in Derry. "Only this time it will be a larger group and I will probably have Secret Service."
Benson told the candidate that both he and the Boston Bruins, who just forced a crucial game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals, were the two big winners of Monday night.
"It was a good night for both of us," Romney said with a grin.
As he stopped to shake nearly every hand in sight, Romney encountered voter after voter who - either by luck or masterful advance work - complained about the stagnant economy under President Obama and called on Romney to take his business experience to Washington.
Derry resident Mary Ellen Zarba approached Romney outside the hardware store and complained that her husband has been forced to work overseas in Saudi Arabia for three years because he cannot find a job in the United States.
"That's three years of President Obama's term, and it has not worked," Romney told her. "If I am President of the United States, there will not be a day I am not getting briefed on and thinking about bringing American jobs to America."
Across the street at Derry Farm and Supply Company, the store's owners griped about the sagging business climate and lamented the empty storefronts that pepper Derry's main drag.
Co-owner Ann Evans, 61, said she was rooting for Romney.
"I did see the debate last night, and you were great," she said. "Nobody fazed you."
Romney said he was pleased his opponents trained their fire on President Obama instead of each other.
"I think people were pretty respectful of one another and we aimed our barbs at the president," he told Evans. "He is the one who is responsible for what's going on right now."
Not everybody who saw Romney campaigning on Tuesday was encouraging.
One man, rolling down Derry's main drag in a truck, shouted out the window: "Go home! Save your money!"
And a handful of restaurant-goers in Manchester and Derry seemed none too pleased to have their breakfasts interrupted by a bubbly man in jeans and a button-down shirt asking about their job security, while a platoon of reporters shoved cameras and microphones into their faces.
None of that appeared to bother Romney, who projected an air of confidence about his positioning in the race.
"Five years ago it was, 'Who the heck or you?,'" he said. "Now it's like, 'Oh yeah, I know who you are.' Either, 'I know who you are, please leave my table,' or, 'I know who you are, I'm going to vote for you.' I like the latter a lot better."
Speaking to reporters after his retail swing, Romney said he had "a good debate" but complimented his opponents on their performances as well.
And while he left the debate site at Saint Anselm College on Monday without a scratch, he predicted that his opponents would not be so easy on him in the future, particularly on the topic of the universal health care plan he developed in Massachusetts.
"I don't think there will be any questions that will be put to rest until somebody has won," he said.
"If people want to look at what happened in Massachusetts, I am not running for governor of Massachusetts," Romney said. "I am running for President of the United States. I am looking forward to the chance to debate President Obama on Obamacare."
Republicans have no vision for the country. Period. And for those who don't know already, Cain is a token, just like Michael Steele was.
It will very hard to beat a man who father came from a part of world where his roots go back four thousand years and spread all over planet Earth, that said nowhere on this..... noboby saying kill American. This is what we should debating jobs at home and what we can do to help people around world. Bless.
He's taking a VICTORY LAP????
That's like running home bragging about the 47/100 you scored on the math test because everyone else scored lower than you.
He came out looking "less suckier' than the rest, but he sucked nonetheless.
That's not saying much.
Reading some of the comments, I find it very interesting that the people who support President Obama never can defend his position on anything. Instead, like the President, they only mock, ridicule, and make snide comments towards their opponents. It would be interesting if they could debate facts without going into a whirl wind expletive rantings
I would love to debate actual facts. Conservatives have a habit of not having any and making them up along the way. I see you forgot to bring yours. How typically hypocritical. You commited the very sin that you accuse the other side of committing.
Did I miss something? Hid Romney win the New Hampshire primary last night? If not- why is CNN reporting a "victory Lap"?
24/7 news is too much!
Same old crap from the repug candidates. The want to beat President Obama, but they couldn't care less about the American people (except for their rich masters). Romney says he will "think about how to bring jobs back". Just thinking about it isn't good enough. If the gop creeps in congress were serious about helping we who don't count, they wouldn't refuse to do their jobs.
I watched the whole 2 hours of this debate and I was not impressed with this dude any time he opened his mouth, he insulted our president, yet offered nothing better than what president Obama has done. He put me to sleep with his covering up instead of answering the questions like How he would get jobs, like how he would get us out of the war, like how he could change healthcare, Michelle Bachman was more exciting than he was. Mitt is nothing but a professional election seeker. He sucks big time. Never thought I would say this but If I had to vote for any of them last night It would have been the old dude Ron Paul, he looks like he'd be running the country from a hospice bed.. Herman cain should stick to the pizza and Prick Santurum needs to explain to us why he helped negotiate the pricing for the John Ensin scandle. Santurum talks like a cartoon character from sesame street.
We are watching these “candidates” not only tonight. We have been watching them for the last 10 years. What they have done, from bringing the country (and the states some of them worked in) to its knees, to vowing to make him the President “fail” before he even started to work as our President, to playing dead the moment the President resumed office (NO-HELL NO) to coming again and again with old unworkable “ideas” and spreading lies, division and demagoguery along the way – you, padraig, are surprised that we can not stand their “debates” anymore? Before they attack the President in the way they do, I would very much like to hear and see how they would do better! Remember 2010? We (GOP/TP) will get you the jobs! What a laugh! So, before you complain that the “poor Republicans” get some critic of their behavior and the way they acted and try to fool the voter again, check THEIR records and what they have “achieved”!
The people in America have to understand that the Republicans and big business are going to do nothing about creating jobs until AFTER the election..
No they won't. The rich are getting richer right now. Didn't you notice they are proposing even more tax cuts in the Ryan Plan?
It's a matter of time before his opponents roast him on healthcare. They played nice now but they aren't going to continue sitting back and let him come out the winner on these things. He is getting for a beatdown.
These Republicans stand for Corporate America, Ignore Middle Class America, embezzle all the wealth of America...that's it....they do not care for Health care, raising Oil, they sell this nation to Saudi again, and china is going to be center of all our jobs....that's it...Obama2012....
What gets me is that all of them rant and rave about how bad President Obama is yet none of them can offer any new or fresh ideas and/or solutions to the nations woes. Considering what President Obama inherited, I think he's done a good job and I for one, looking at the pathetic array of choices the Republicans are offering us, President Obama has my vote in 2012. Let the Republicans get their act together and see what they can come up with in 2016.
Now that the love-fest is over, the other candidates are going to have to convince the zealots that THEY should be the candidate and not the plastic-man from MA. Just wait, the venom, charges, and outright lies are coming shortly. THEN let's see how Mittens looks
A vote for Mitt is a vote for a man who is a member of a religious cult!
Romney is probably the best and smartest contestant but no Republicans are still stuck on stupid.
I'll defend the President. He has been in office for 2.5 years and all the Reps can say is that he has failed, worst in history, leading from behind,....etc? Romney even minimized the killing of Bin Laden? Bachman said she would consult the "Commanders in Chief" [sic]. The reality is that Obama is not responsible for the job numbers and it takes the repubs who are the majority in the House to get things done. The fact is that the Reps. won't do anything whily Obama is in office because the want the situation as dire as possible so they can win.
Last night the only candidates making a bit of sense were Ron Paul and Cain! I await your response.
We can only hope a viable Third Party Candidate comes along and that person can beat Obama and whatever Republican they put up in the next election.
I look forward to Mitt doing his victory lap in Washington DC in November 2012. It's time to bring responsible management to the US federal government. The Office of The Prsident should be more about management than political games like it is now.
Neither party seems to have a clue as to what needs to be done, however Mr. Romney and his party are further removed reality when it comes to real solutions. He is just another republican who sees tax brakes and subsidies for the rich and big corporations as the answer to creating jobs and getting the economy back on track. WRONG!!! Tax brakes and subsidies for the rich and big corporations has not, nor will they ever work. We live in a global economy with major interconnectivity. We have to set the pace for the rest of the world or be faced with the question of: do you want to work for a dollar an hour with no benefits while CEOs and their ilk make tens of millions of dollars a year?
Americans are displeased that you ignored jobs and took turns firing at a man not there to defend himself.
If your point is that Obama is all about jobs then he needs a serious reality check. He is lousy at creating jobs.
He tried that, remember? About $4 trillion ago?
Victory lap? For what? Did he finish a 5K race or something?
We can't really call that clown parade last night a real event, can we?
Mitt trying to play the angry, hardcore former gov., just doesn't work.......this contrived anger is so transparent. None of those people at the debate will ever get in the White House, except as a visitor......