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."