January 7th, 2008
09:26 PM ET
15 years ago

Romney looks for Granite State comeback

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - After a late-night flight from Iowa, Mitt Romney stepped off the airplane here Friday with a re-tooled stump speech in his back pocket, and hope that more than a year’s worth of organizing would help deliver him a much-needed victory in the Granite State.

Romney was bruised from a stunning loss in the Hawkeye State - territory where he invested heavily - and a strategy that was supposed to slingshot him through the early primary states on the way to winning the Republican presidential nomination. But a late surge by Mike Huckabee, a relatively unknown former Arkansas governor, prevented Romney from winning the Iowa caucuses.

In New Hampshire, he arguably faces a tougher foe: an established political figure with a maverick reputation whose campaign is rebounding at just about the right time – and John McCain happens to be the only candidate in the race who’s already won the Granite State’s presidential primary once before (in 2000).

Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, is now openly talking about change – a line that has been all but branded this cycle by Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. But Romney advisors argue that this message is not new for the former governor – it is a point he has been talking about since early spring.

“You are all catching up with us,” Ron Kaufman, one of Romney's senior advisers, said in an interview with CNN.

Kaufman added, “This election is about change.”

Specifically, Romney is painting McCain as a Washington insider, even though the Arizona senator has not been embraced by the GOP’s D.C. establishment.

"We are focusing like a laser on the fact that if you want change in Washington, the best way to do that is with outsiders, and not with people that have been part of the Washington culture like John McCain," Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said Saturday.

Romney, campaigning in recent days with a large blue sign reading "Washington is Broken," has taken a more aggressive posture on the stump against McCain than he did against Huckabee in Iowa.

Campaign stop after campaign stop, Romney has hammered McCain for four straight days on immigration policy, and his lack of early support for the Bush tax cuts. He even ventured to challenge the Arizona senator on one of his long-time priorities: cutting pork-barrel spending.

The Romney campaign has attempted to paint McCain as too much of an old hand to defeat the fresh optimism of Obama, whom Romney said will likely be the Democratic nominee.

"Republicans are going to have to say, ‘Who does a better job against Barack Obama?’" said Kaufman. "Someone from the Senate, or someone from the outside? And that’s a good thing for us."

McCain shot back at Romney's criticisms during the ABC/WMUR/Facebook Republican debate Saturday, mocking the former governor as "the candidate of change," a reference to his changed positions on issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

In the face of McCain's almost improbable New Hampshire comeback, Romney has saturated TV airwaves and mailboxes with contrast ads, and purchased two minutes of precious airtime on Monday night with his "closing argument" spot.

Romney's strategy, however, has been handicapped by the truncated early primary calendar.

"There's not a lot of time left, and given an extra couple of weeks, that message could be brought home even more effectively," Romney told reporters Monday in Stratham, noting that the quick turnaround between Iowa and New Hampshire was one reason he ran attack ads against McCain.

Heading into primary day, Romney trails McCain by five points among likely Republican voters in the state, according to a CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

He needs a win, but his candidacy will not face a fatal blow if he comes in second to McCain. The former governor is also a successful businessman and has already shown a willingness to pour millions of his personal fortune into the race. And no matter what happens Tuesday night, Romney’s next priority will be his birth state of Michigan.

–CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby 

Filed under: Mitt Romney • New Hampshire
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Vic Novosad, Sugar Land, TX

    Like the folks in New Hampshire, who voted Mitt Romney as winner of the debate on Sunday, I too, will vote for him if Hillary is not the Democratic candidate.

    January 7, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  2. Tom NY

    Romney should drop out, he's too soft. He should endorse Ron Paul.

    January 7, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  3. Joshua

    Peter, you got it wrong. Mitt Romney NEVER supported gay marriage! Check your facts on that! Let me also say that the deceit continues to pour off the mouth of McCain! There erroneous allegations that Romney is running a negative campaign are rediculous in the face of his personal attacks on Mitt! I hope that tomorrow, voters will see right through this nonsense and examine the facts. The fact is that everyone will bring change as they are new leaders, however, Mitt is absolutely the most capable of bringing about conservative fiscal change, conservative foriegn policy change (through experience with the 2002 Olympics and governing a state after 9-11-01, and the ability to assemble a team of advisors – just look at who is advising him currently on foreign policy – he has many of the best), and conservative social change while being the people's President! Romney/Hunter 08

    January 7, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  4. Jimmy, Iowa

    I caucussed for Barrack Obama in Iowa, just to latter catch my son smoking a jiont. During my reaction and punishment he argued back that it was ok to smoke Pot because Obama did and he is going to be President and will legalize it. So how do I argue with this. The only choice I have is to try to get Obama to explain to my child and the children around the United States that he used his past experence as a way to get votes. A political stunt that could create a loss of life for some child with an overdose of drugs. America, Barrack made a very large mistake at the expense of our children he DOES NOT NEED TO BE PRESIDENT> THAT WOULD SEND THE WRONG MESSAGE TO OUR YOUTH. I can not take back my vote, but can do every thing I can to get this message out. I have changed my position to John Edwards, until I watched the debate. Now I will Support SENATOR CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES> Barrack go lead Kenya. You have as much tie there as you have here.

    January 7, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  5. stunnedsilence

    GO MITT!!!

    January 8, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. Vermillion, SD

    Go get em' Mitt!

    January 8, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |

    McCain is a WAR MONGER,. listent to McCain WAR WAR WAR.

    Mitt Romneys experience in dealing with countries from all over the world in a contructive manner gives him the proper balance to be the best President.

    McCain War history is impressive and yes he did call for more, troops and yes his Dad fought in wars and yes his Grampa fought in Wars,

    McCain wants another generation of WAR – McCain is scary.

    Mitt Romney would of benefitted from more time, remeber this is his first go around and he has been too much of a gentlemen, he needs to hit harder.

    Obama is not that tough he is just has weak competition.

    January 8, 2008 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  8. PAUL

    MItt Romney is a brilliant, honest, hardworking man whom other world leaders will respect and listen to. He is presidential in looks, attitude and abilities. He is of high moral caliber, respectful and can be trusted by the American people to make descisions that will benefit everyone. As he so clearly demonstrated in the ABC/WMUR/Facebook debate on Saturday, he can remain calm, cool and collected even under the most hostile and provocative attacks on his character and integrity. The president we need is found in Mitt Romney.

    January 8, 2008 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  9. Deb Bunno

    These are the questions I need answered by Mitt Romney.

    "Do you intend to make this country a theocracy? The founder/prophet of your church prophesized that "The Constitution of the United States will ‘hang by a thread’ and the Church will save it by establishing a theocracy" You have vowed to live by your faith. Please no double-speak, either you believe Joseph Smith or you do not.

    If you disagree and dissociate yourself from that teaching, how can you stay a Mormon? Moreover, if you refuse to disassociate yourself from these teachings of your church, how can you expect any sane person to vote for you?

    Also, your faith believes your church president is the living Moses, that he is your god’s mouthpiece and that Elohim directs Earthly business through your current prophet. I understand that to mean that you will not let Gordon Hinckley, your president, dictate what you would do as president, but Hinckley does have the authority of the faith that governs your life,to let you know what Elohim (the Mormon god) expects you to do. You have vowed to follow this faith. Please be clear on these important subjects.

    January 8, 2008 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  10. Aaron, NC

    He did win a state...Wyoming.

    January 8, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  11. Ogrepete

    Deb Bunno: Do yourself a favor and watch reruns of Mitt's "Faith in America" speech. It might cheer you up! It will certainly give you a greater admiration for the challenges our nation's Founding Fathers had.

    Next time you're running for President, Deb, feel free to underline these issues.

    January 8, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  12. Tyrone

    Mitt Romney has a balanced approach and I am warning up to Mitt.

    His experience in bringing the world together in the Olympics means he has
    the balanced approach of consultation and acting in a prudent manner.

    McCain a 3 generation soldier seems to want to make my generation soldiers.

    January 8, 2008 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  13. Tom, California

    Deb Bunno, Romney unequivocally stated that he will not blur the lines between his faith and his presidency when he gave his "Faith in America" speech recently.

    I think your post has more to do with misrepresenting mormon beliefs than politics.

    January 8, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  14. Tom, NY

    I hope when Romney drops out next week he endorses Ron Paul. Dr Paul was the only one that didn't try to cheap-shot him.

    January 8, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  15. Lori


    You are way off base, spouting rhetoric from some anti-Mormon literature you got your hands on. That false info didn't come from personal investigation. You can get a lot more accurate info at lds.org or mormon.org

    January 8, 2008 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  16. Shawn

    On the eve of a primary election I'm not sure whether you are sincere in your questions or not because of the way that it is phrased. I hope you are. Mitt is probably not going to be able read the Ticker and get around to answering your question with all that he has going on, so I will give it a shot.
    I can say that the first quote you have up there is incorrect. I don't have it at hand but I know that it does not say that the "Church" will save it by establishing a theocracy. The intention of the quote is that members of the Church will be in position, etc to help "save" the Constitution as it is hanging by a thread (under attack). This would mean helping preserve the principles in the Constitution. It doesn't make sense to say that they are going to "save" the constitution by changing it to a theocracy, that would be an entirely new government and wouldn't be "saving" anything.
    We believe (I'm speaking from an assumed shared belief) that President Hinckley is the mouthpiece of the Lord. He speaks for Jesus Christ here on earth. He speaks for the things relating to the Church and does not tell individual members of the Church what they should do in regard to individual choices. He gives principles to live by that are the same foundational principles that the Christian world lives by. The other side of that is that we believe that anyone can receive personal revelation (inspiration) for themselves about what they should do in any given circumstance. It would be improper for a church leader to approach a civil official and tell them how to do their job.
    The church has some strong teachings about the roles of government and religion. The church's belief on government and laws in general is found in what is called the Doctrine and Covenants. In Section 134 it says a lot. Specifically in verse 9 it says: "We do not believe it is just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied."
    I hope this helps with your questions.

    January 8, 2008 05:29 am at 5:29 am |
  17. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    "MItt Romney is a brilliant, honest, hardworking man whom other world leaders will respect and listen to. He is presidential in looks, attitude and abilities."

    ******* I don't think so! He is not honest: the voters in Massachusetts elected one man who evolved into another; that's either lying to the voters or not knowing your core values. He flip-flops on major issues.

    He said he was a "life-long hunter" – he wasn't. I don't care if he was or was not but don't lie to me! He stood calmly while an evangelical called his religion a cult because the preacher was going to endorse him. If your religion is not worth defending, what is? Then he states he watched his father marching with Martin Luther King – when he didn't. What fantasy world is Mitt living in?

    The latest ads called out McCain for supporting "amnesty" – the buzz word that panders to the GOP base. McCain fought back. Mitt said "I didn't use the word amnesty in the ads" – then later admitted he made a mistake... because he hadn't seen the ads.

    But the ads go out with Mitt's voice saying "I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message." You either approved it or didn't know – can't be both ways!!!

    As for "looking presidential" – how shallow can you get!!!! Paul probably voted for Bush because he thought he could sit down and have a beer with him ....

    Mitt, like Bush, is trying to do better than his Daddy did. This father – son rivalry does not work for America.

    January 8, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  18. kmcital

    One more for Deb:

    With so much concern in the public on this issue, I'm surprised it's focus is on a Mormon candidate. I am 36 and have been attending weekly service meeings as a Mormon all my life, and not once in an LDS congregation have the church leaders or any member of the congregation (since many sermons are delivered by assigned members, not priesthood leaders) ever told the members who to vote for. In fact, we almost never talk politics at all...the few rare exceptions are if there is a social issue or a proposed legislation that poses a critical threat to the moral state of our country (and I mean rare, I can only think of a couple in my lifetime) and then we are encouraged to voice concerns to our elected representatives.

    There is such a strong commitment in the LDS church to respect the separation of Church and State...on the other hand I have heard that ministers of other faiths will speak openly about politics and candidates and sway their people to vote a certain way. I wonder how many evangelicals in Iowa heard sermons mentioning Huckabee?? Guaranteed not one LDS sunday service talked about Romney from the pulpit.

    January 8, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  19. Has, UK

    Mitt Romney is a hugely successful proven business Leader, insider of US & Int’l financial markets, fairly successful Governor & a Political Leader, successful husband & father and a religious person; who stands shade taller than Mike. In the best interest of America Mike should put his ego aside and must accept Romney is better qualified to deal with present crisis and he can be a good team as Vice President with Mitt Romney. They can be a formidable team and will go down in the history as one of the best Team, American’s ever had.

    Media is scared to discuss Romney’s all round fair achievements as compared to others in the field. Rather than discussing real Leader with a proven track record of hard work, experience, intelligence & character, under Semitism they are trashing him 24/7 for being a Mormon. As if elected he will force every one to convert to Mormon. This is the same Media who never raised any objections when a Mormon Democrat Harry Reid became Senate Majority Leader.

    January 8, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. PSK Lakeside, AZ

    Maybe not one Sunday service from "the pulpit" – but I live in a predominately Mormon community & the paper is full of the rah-rah for Mitt rhetoric. I guess I should assume it's only in the paper & not spoken of ANYWHERE else. That's a big fish to swallow.

    January 8, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  21. Deb Bunno

    Ogrepete, I did watch that speech and I read the transcript too. Romney doesn’t answer my questions in it. When I can’t get a straight answer from a candidate, from any Mormon missionary I’ve talked to, I’m thinking double-talk and don’t trust the candidate.

    These issues won’t be a problem for me if I run for president. Mitt is running, however, and if he won’t answer them – he can’t win. He said unequivocally no church leader would control him – I believe him. That is not my question. In talking to ex-Mormons, I am told that any LDS man with a temple recommend will be directed by the current “prophet” and bishops. Romney has a temple recommend – he even was a Bishop in the church. I have done my homework, as I have done with other candidates. Which is why I will not vote for Ron Paul. Not a lot of others will either.

    I have asked if Romney believes his church writings, doctrines, beliefs – I have not made up those doctrines. Joseph Smith created them, I just want to know if the candidate believes them to be true. I got the information from the writings of Joseph Smith, not from anti-Mormon literature. I’d never get a straight answer from the LDS site, I’ve tried. The most anyone can get about why Mormon’s believe in polytheism is “We don’t concern ourselves with those other gods because we only worship the god of this world.” They never deny that their god has parents, grandparents, uncles etc because they believe it to be true.

    January 8, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  22. Deb Bunno

    I am unnerved at having a president who is afraid to publicly state exactly what he believes to be true. While Hatch and Reid certainly do have divergent views on a variety of political topics, their views on the sanctity of life - against legal abortion, for federal funding of stem cell research - are very similar and seemed based in part on Mormon theology. So it's perfectly reasonable for traditionalist Christian voters concerned about these issues to interest themselves in Romney's Mormonism.

    History shows that the LDS church is not into separation of church and state, from any information I can find. Isn’t it true that the founder of LDS also ran for president and that he was mayor of Navarro, Ill. at the time? That he burned down a newspaper because it was going to run derogatory information about him, and he declared Marshall Law in the ensuing “problem” his actions caused, leading eventually to his arrest, which led to an actual gun battle in which he was killed? (there is also documentation of teachers in Utah being fired for answering “because he was a criminal” when asked why Smith was arrested, instead of because he was a martyr. Google it). Let’s face it, government in Utah is like no other state, and that’s not a good thing. Ask a non-Mormon about getting a job there.

    January 8, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  23. Mick Delaware

    It's over, Mitt. You lost.

    January 8, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  24. Terry, El Paso, TX

    Mitt Romney: the candidate for all seasons.

    Are you pro-life or pro-abortion right? Mitt agrees with you.

    Are you for the war in Iraq or against it? Mitt knows how you feel.

    No matter what you think, Mitt is in your corner.

    January 8, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  25. Giving Obama a free ride is doing a disservice to the country

    Giving Obama a free ride is doing a disservice to the country. It really is about Obama's message. He can't point to a record of accomplishment so he talks about bringing people together and giving people hope. The media has forgotten their job! They are responsible to inform voters of the differences between candidates, not to endorse or support just ONE! As they have with obamaboy!
    **CNN last night Lou Dobbs said they polled the young voters supporting obama (which is how he is winning the recent caucuses) NOT ONE COULD SAY WHERE HE STOOD ON ANY ISSUE?? With the country at odds with so many foreign countries, it is horrifying to think of Barrack “Hussein" Obama (Muslim) running our country. You think we are in trouble with bush/Chaney!
    OBAMA CHEATED in the Iowa Caucuses. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson placed fourth. But did they really earn their finishing positions? The answer may be surprising. In the last hours before the Iowa caucuses Obama, approached Joe Biden with this, proposal: In precincts where Biden had a local official loyal to him, and if Biden wasn't viable, then Senator Biden would tell his organizers to move his supporters over to Obama,in precincts where Obama had more than enough supporters, he would lend people to Biden to ensure Biden a fourth place finish so that he could continue. Biden told the Washington Post that the strategy could be "viability for victory except when the media found out, Obama's camp admitted that the conversation took place. Biden, who when asked about the proposal at a campaign event said that the deal could "probably" help both campaigns; he rejected the deal on "moral grounds," History recorded that Joe Biden placed fifth in Iowa, and subsequently dropped out of the race. On January 4, the day after the caucus, the New York Times reported Obama made the same deal to Bill Richardson only this time the deal was accepted. The Times article gives an eye-witness account and confession of an Obama official telling Richardson supporters that a pact had indeed been made. Deb Copeland, an Obama volunteer reported by the New York Times. "What we're concerned about hearing people going to Hillary. Volunteers for the Biden campaign told the Rev. Rob Times that Obama organizers used the same speech about a "pact" to lure supporters in at least two precincts. The Effect of backdoor wheeling and dealing between campaigns is that Richardson's fourth place finish and Obama's would not had a victory in a democratic system. Our democracy is based, in part, on the concept of "one man, one vote," and a vote by a secret ballot, free from the judging eyes of neighbors and the media, free from bribery, and free from the influence of political activists. Had the Iowa contest been based on a ballot, and had caucus voters cast a single vote for the candidate of their choice as is the most fair method of picking a president, then Obama may have come in third and Richardson in fifth. Obama's would have placed second to Clinton, and the dynamic of the race would have changed drastically. Edwards, Clinton, and even Biden all would have come out of Iowa in stronger positions. Those who took advantage and exploited it for their own purposes, namely Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, are not without culpability and their misdeeds should be remembered in the minds of voters.

    January 8, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
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