Tilton, New Hampshire (CNN) - The New Hampshire Union Leader dressed down Mitt Romney in a Friday editorial for campaigning at "arms-length" in New Hampshire, and accused the governor of hiding from voters' questions.
The editorial was published a day after Romney attended six events in the northern part of the state, including hosting two town halls. Over the course of the GOP candidate's four-day state bus tour he planned to attend 14 events with voters, stopping at a spaghetti dinner, a pizza restaurant, a coffee shop and more than one diner.
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The Union Leader endorsed Newt Gingrich in late November, injecting the former speaker's campaign with a surge of momentum in New Hampshire.
Romney has stepped up his retail politicking in recent weeks as Gingrich surged in the polls in New Hampshire. The campaign has branded the redoubled effort "Earn It," and the roll-out comes after months of cautious campaigning and infrequent retail stops in Romney's firewall state.
The former Massachusetts governor has hosted 19 town halls in the New Hampshire since entering the race in June.
The Union Leader editorial pointed to an event Romney hosted in Bedford on Tuesday, where he gave a formal speech and did not take questions as he kicked off his "Earn It" bus tour.
"Romney is playing it safe, trying to avoid being asked questions to which he does not have scripted, well-rehearsed answers," the editorial said. "Since when is that 'earning it' in New Hampshire?"
The former governor shook hands with voters and signed autographs for more than 15 minutes after the Bedford event.
The editorial said early state voters should "demand" Romney sit down for a one-on-one debate with Gingrich. This week the former House speaker challenged Romney to a debate after the two skirmished over negative advertisements aimed at Gingrich.
"New Hampshire voters should tell Romney that if he really wants to earn it, he can join Gingrich for a real New Hampshire town hall meeting - one in which voters get to ask questions and hear the candidates answer in more than 30-second sound bites," the editorial said.
Romney declined the debate request during a press conference, saying it would not be respectful to the other GOP candidates.