Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Republican running mates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fielded economic and foreign policy questions from a friendly audience at their first joint town hall in New Hampshire Monday.
Triumphant music was cued when they pulled up in an SUV and emerged with their shirtsleeves rolled up. The two candidates waved and shook hands as they walked toward the stage surrounded by chairs and bleachers filled with more than 3,000 people at St. Anselm College.
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"Gosh, I feel like I'm almost a New Hampshire resident. I come here…It would save me some tax dollars I think," joked Romney, who won the primary here. The former governor and resident of Massachusetts also owns a home on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
Romney was not queried about whether he would release more tax returns, but one woman asked the presumptive presidential nominee how they are going to "combat the lies" coming from their Democratic counterparts.
"It seems the first victim of an Obama campaign is the truth, and it has been, it has been sad and disappointing" Romney said. "[A]ll we have heard so far is one attack after the other and, and frankly, they're – they're typically not honest. There may be one in there that is, I keep looking for it, but it's – it's been a disappointment."
The woman said that when her son asked for the day off to attend the Romney and Ryan town hall, his boss said to him, "You mean that guy that wants to raise taxes?"
"We are going to make sure that Americans have the money to pay their bills. We're not going to raise taxes. That slows down growth, it kills jobs. We're going to get this economy going, and Mr. president, stop saying something that's not the truth," Romney said.
Ryan, a seven-term congressman and chairman of the House Budget Committee, again addressed Medicare, which has become a central debate between campaigns.
"We're going to restore this program and we're going to get these bureaucrats out of the way of standing between our senior citizens and their Medicare. Medicare should not be a piggy bank for Obamacare it should be a guaranteed promise our seniors can count on," Ryan said in his opening remarks.
The Romney campaign touted Monday's event as Romney's 100th town hall since he launched his presidential bid on June 2, 2011. Included in that tally are tele-town halls that are rarely included on his official schedule or announced to the media.
Romney's vice presidential announcement was originally slated for August 10 in New Hampshire but was rescheduled for the next day in Norfolk, Virginia because Ryan was scheduled to attend a memorial service in his congressional district for the victims of the Sikh Temple shooting.
Ryan has been on the ticket just 10 days and after an elaborate two-day rollout with stops in Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin the two candidates had spent the last week campaigning separately.
More interesting than how the candidates answered questions might be how they interacted. Ryan has been on the ticket just 10 days, but after an elaborate two-day rollout with stops in Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin the two candidates campaigned separately last week.
Ryan, who has a smoother ability to joke around than Romney, saved the White House hopeful from a story that fell flat with the audience.
As a man started to ask a question while wearing a New York Yankees shirt, Romney jokingly began to trash-talk like many sports fans do.
"Now this goes against my nature…this better be a good question from a Yankees fan," he said. The audience was amused.
Romney then shared a story about a time he was asked about the Boston Red Sox trading Johnny Damon to the Yankees and he responded, "I said if it proves one thing, we all hate Yankees."
The punch line was politely received but Ryan delivered a save to Romney. Without skipping a beat, Ryan said to the man, "But not you, sir. We love you."