Posted: January 7, 2008 3:39 PM
Romney Bets Big on Granite State Victory
“We need some voters,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney pleaded during a stop in Nashua, N.H., on Monday, the final day of campaigning before the state’s primary. Romney is scrambling to secure a win in the Granite State after a disappointing loss to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in last week’s Iowa caucus.
Until recently, Romney enjoyed a strong lead in New Hampshire. The latest polls show the former governor in a close race with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. A new USA Today/Gallup poll showed the two in a statistical dead heat with McCain in the lead with 34 percent (up from 27 percent last month), while Romney had 30 percent (down from 34 percent in December). In a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released Monday, McCain led Romney, 34 percent to 29 percent. Another poll by CNN, WMUR and the University of New Hampshire had McCain in front by six points with 32 percent, followed by Romney with 26 percent.
Over the weekend, the two candidates sparred over everything from immigration to leadership experience to tax policy. In the ABC News/Facebook/WMUR debate on Saturday, Romney accused McCain of supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. McCain fired back, “It’s not amnesty, and for you to describe it as you do in the attack ads, my friend, you can spend your whole fortune on these attack ads, but it still won’t be true.”
Romney, who faced criticism from several of his Republican rivals at the debate on Saturday, was attacked by McCain for shifting his position on issues. McCain quipped, “I just wanted to say to Governor Romney, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change.”
At a Fox News debate on Sunday, Romney attacked McCain over tax cuts. “Senator McCain was one of two Republicans who voted against the Bush tax cuts.” In response, McCain referred to his record of cutting so-called pork-barrel spending. The Arizona senator said, “I think it was the reason why I wasn’t elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate,” adding, “I have a record of saving billions for the American taxpayers.”
Romney also took aim at Huckabee on the tax issue at Sunday’s forum charging, “You raised taxes by half a billion dollars.” Huckabee responded that he lowered taxes, which prompted Romney to respond, “You make up facts faster than you talk.”
After his second-place finish in Iowa and faced with the possibility of losing to a surging McCain campaign in New Hampshire, Romney is casting himself as the candidate of change and emphasizing his resume. Romney is highlighting how he worked as an agent of change as a businessman, Olympics CEO and governor.
In that vein, the campaign will air a new TV ad in New Hampshire Monday night called Tomorrow. The ad touts Romney as a Washington outsider who has the experience to turn around Washington.
Romney scheduled six events in five towns on Monday along with a rally at the end of the day at his campaign headquarters in Manchester. On Tuesday morning, Romney plans to meet with voters in Manchester, Bedford, Nashua, Salem and Derry.