Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Mitt Romney emphasized his business experience Friday evening at a campaign stop in this historic mill city and noted that Rick Perry’s decision to seek the Republican presidential nomination would have no bearing on his own bid for the White House.
Perry will announce Saturday that he is running for the GOP nomination, and the latest polling shows that the Texas governor immediately will become Romney’s biggest threat. Perry, who is well thought of among social conservatives, will visit New Hampshire just hours after making his presidential announcement in South Carolina.
“He could do real well and if he does, why that will make it a more interesting contest,” Romney said in response to a question about Perry’s pending entry into the race. “I just don’t know how that will all work out. My predictions in this race relative to the other guys haven’t turned out to be spot on, so I’m going to avoid doing that.”
Romney even pledged to campaign for the eventual Republican nominee if he loses his second bid for the White House – a starkly different tone than taken by some of his rivals 24 hours earlier at a debate in Ames, Iowa. Several of the candidates seeking the nomination engaged in sharp exchanges at the debate.
“If Rick Perry, or frankly anybody else on that stage last night were our nominee, I will be up there working hard for them,” Romney told a group of reporters after addressing about 250 people at a meet and greet in the backyard of an influential state Republican. “Because anyone of the people on that stage as well as Rick Perry would do a heck of a lot better job leading this country than the current president.”
Romney, who has consistently led in the national polls, has focused his criticism on President Obama even as some of his rivals have offered harsh critiques of policy decisions he made as governor of Massachusetts. He also has remained laser focused on trying to highlight his successful career in private business – a theme he focused on Friday evening.
“I actually think that at a time when the number one issue on people’s minds is the strength of our economy and the ability of our economy to create good jobs, that it’s a real help from a credibility standpoint and from a leadership standpoint to understand how the economy works,” he said.
Romney also has made a strategic decision not to compete in the Iowa Straw Poll, an early test of organizing strength in that state but hardly a predictor of the eventual winner of the Republican presidential nomination. In August 2007, Romney invested heavily to win the Iowa Straw Poll, but lost the Iowa caucuses in January 2008. Most of his rivals are in Ames for this contest, which will take place Saturday.
Instead of Iowa, Romney's main focus in this primary election has been New Hampshire, a state where he has ties and hopes his economic message resonates.
While Romney does not live in New Hampshire - he is a resident of neighboring Massachusetts - he noted that he owns a second home in the Granite State where his family spends summers.
And a Romney campaign official said that the former Massachusetts governor plans to hold at least 20 more campaign events before the end of this month in New Hampshire.
Asked if he was trying to send a message to New Hampshire voters that he chose to spend the evening in the Granite State instead of participating in the Iowa Straw Poll, Romney took the high road.
“I am happy to be in New Hampshire tonight,” Romney said. “I respect deeply the Ames Straw Poll process. And were I participating this year in that process I’d be there. So I don’t want to try and draw a distinction about where I am relative to the other fine folks and their participating in the straw poll. And I did that when I ran four years ago. It was a great experience, I respect that experience. I’m happy to be in Manchester at the home of Ovide and Bettie Lamontagne and I appreciate the support that I got here tonight."
Governing is not business and Business is not governing.
Yep. He's got lots of experience...running a presidential campaign for about 5 years. Must be the longest presidential campaign in history by now.
This is one good man..I could vote for him.
This batch of repubicans, including those on the fringe who can't decide whether they're running or not, are clearly not leaders. They offer little mroe than whining & baseless attacks on our sitting President- who aside from a different skin color, party & views from their radically right issues- isn't performing all so badly. Losers, all.
So, he couldn't take the Iowa heat, so he stayed somewhere safe-near his second home, campaigning in a safe environment of a fellow party member's home which I am sure was an invitation only event of "upper class citizens" of the same party. Please, stay there-we wouldn't want you to choose the tougher path.
Romney made his millions by breaking up American companies, laying off American workers and shipping American jobs overseas.
His kind of short-term thinking that benefits the already wealthy at the expense of the average American and our nation is exactly what WE DO NOT NEED.
Obama take another vaction...quit destroying america that would be the "change" and the "hope" will be that you get booted out of office.
Perry = Enron
Romney = 5 sons , no military service
I wonder if romney will mention the stimulus money that perry took even while he was talking against anyone taking it. and he did it with a straight face.
No solutions, just lies, hate, fear-mongering, and racism from the GOP. Worthless sub-humans are all they and their illiterate masses are.
Perry is the death of Romney and Perry is the death of the GOP winning in 12'
Corporations are people... ...Cold heated business man can't see the difference.
Does anyone out there believe a Republican President would govern with an even hand? Neither Bush did it. Reagan most certainly didn't do it, which is he's held in such high regard by conservatives. Romney doesn't seem like that the type to govern with an even hand, from the center. In fact, any Republican President would have to do the same dance as Speaker Boehner has done in recent days, weeks, and months.
The underlying truth is that Romney is a member of a religious cult and not fit to be president or even a governor!
The Plastic man . . . No Substance = No Value. America, don't fall for this guy or any of the empties campaigning for president.
Romney has little to offer. The media want to promote him as the leader, but I think the media is leading the GOP down the primrose path.
Oh yes, that business experience. Buy a US company, fire all the American workers, send their jobs to India or anywhere else around the world for penniesi a day.
That business experience?
BTW romneycare, you said something about the President being aggressive somewhere in the land of cornballs. If there is anything that the President is not is aggressive. I think most of us who stand by and behind him wish he was.
Regardless of who wins your nomination . . . . . . Obama 2012-2016!
On any given day, not one of these people would go to a state fair.
the only way any of these 2 or the rest of the group of frauds will ever get in the whitehouse is if they played for the football team who wins the superbowl! if romney wins the nomination then the GOP will prove they are really racist. the architect of obamacare wants to fundementally change america & will have your wives & daughters indoctrinated to be sister wives & wear long sleeve dresses with dress shirt collars & churn butter all day! Perry will mandate your daughters to get HPV vaccines as he did here in texas! I'm laughing at the GOP on a daily basis with thw "front runners" they are choosing, you guys are hilarious & I now see how you could vote for W twice......hilarious I tell you!
Oh, yeah, Romney's happy to welcome Perry to the race. And he thinks it will make the race more "interesting". Uh-huh. And if you believe that, I got an Iraqi nuke I'll sell you cheap. But give him credit, Romney does his homework, and he's built a strong staff. I'll guarantee you that somewhere in his HQ people are poring over the contingency plan in a notebook labeled "Rick Perry". Romney's biggest problem with Perry is not how to beat him for the nomination, but how to handle all the Christian extremists who will be so disappointed when Perry loses. Romney desperately needs the support of the evangelicals to beat Obama, and Perry has them in his pocket. Stay 'tuned!
Good luck duking it out with Perry. After you bloody each other up, Obama awaits.