By Gregory W. Wallace (@gregorywallace)
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. -- Mitt Romney will net another major New Hampshire endorsement on Sunday when Sen. Kelly Ayotte appears at his side at a rally in Nashua, N.H.
Ayotte, one of three Republicans in the state's four-member congressional delegation, joins former Sen. Judd Gregg, her predecessor in the seat, and former Gov. John Sununu aboard team Romney, which has a considerable list of state legislators and four of the five-member Executive Council on board. The is the first of the Granite State delegation to Washington, D.C. to endorse.
"With his strong qualifications and executive leadership experience, he will put America on the path to fiscal responsibility to make sure that we don't continue to crush our children with mountains of debt," Ayotte said in an email to supporters sent Saturday night. She also cited his foreign policy positions in the note and said he would prove a formidable opponent to President Barack Obama.
Ayotte is seen as a rising star in the G.O.P. She was the first woman to serve as New Hampshire attorney general, appointed by former Gov. Craig Benson, a Republican, and reappointed under his successor and the current governor, Democrat John Lynch. She rose to prominence in part by prosecuting and pursuing the death penalty in the case of a man accused of fatally shooting a Manchester police officer.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
By Gregory W. Wallace (@gregorywallace)
PETERBOROUGH, N.H. -- If nothing else, Mitt Romney wanted voters leaving the historic downtown town hall here to know at least one thing about him: he champions cuts in federal spending.
"Cut the Spending" was emblazoned on a banner behind him and it was the topic of his stump speech. He brought out the theme when answering questions, and judging by the additional video cameras in the room, his campaign plans to cut a television advertisement on the subject.
The former Massachusetts governor took questions from reporters for the first time in a week and responded to questions about the apparently legal removal of computerized records when he left the Massachusetts governor's office. He said his office had done nothing illegal, and the documents he provided to the state archives went beyond the Bay State's legal requirements.
If president, "We would do what is required by the law and then some," Romney told reporters.
He highlighted his proposals to cut federal spending which is in line with the "cut, cap, and balance" proposal advanced by House Republicans in the summer debt negotiations. He adamantly told reporters that revenue, or tax, increases would have no part in any solution he derives or supports.
Romney says he would review federal programs, and although he likes some -- specifically citing the National Endowment for the Arts and Public Broadcasting System -- he said all would be up for review, and non-essential programs would be on the chopping block.
"You can't imagine how many there are," he said, citing 47 separate job training programs within nine different federal agencies.
But he made no mention of the bipartisan House and Senate deficit reduction panel -- the so-called Supercommittee, with one week remaining to submit an aggressive plan -- until asked by reporters for his advice to the group.
"What the Supercommittee should do is rein in federal spending and reform Medicare and Medicaid," he said, then reiterated his opposition to tax increases, maintaining that the gap can be closed and deficit reduced by spending cuts alone.
Like the other G.O.P. presidential hopefuls, Romney wants to repeal the health care reforms passed under the administration of President Barack Obama.
"I can guarantee if you have bureaucrats in Washington manage health care, it's going to get real expensive and real lousy," he said. "Consumer choice and freedom works better than government intervention."
The health care industry should operate "more like a consumer driven market, not a government run utility," he said. Romney garnered laughter when he said that he has experience in this field; though many minds may have flashed to the health care program he signed into law in Massachusetts, of which Republican voters are wary, he said hospitals were among his first clients as a business consultant.
Romney holds his business experience in the forefront as he takes a pass on his Republican competition and seeks to differentiate himself from President Obama. His critique often includes a line about how the next president should have private business experience: "to create jobs, it helps to have had a job."
Tonight, he criticized the President for being a weak leader at a time of economic crisis, and based on his perception of the President's views on government.
"I think he believes that its bureaucrats -- well meaning, well inteding bureaucrats -- in Washington, D.C. can run the economy beter than Americans do, and he's wrong," Romney said tonight.
He sought to downplay reports that staffers in his office had deleted from public view an electronic trail of his Massachusetts administration's decision making by either wiping or purchasing computer hard drives and email servers before leaving office. Romney pointed to what he said were 700 boxes of documents submitted to the state archives, saying that was more than required by state law and more significant than transparency efforts of any other governor.
"I don't believe there has ever been an administation that has ever said, 'Let's give you our files,' " he told reporters, referring specifically to computer records.
Computer drives were purchased or wiped, he said, because they contained "privileged, confidential, and private" materials, among them medical records and resumes of job applicants.
Democrats turned out with questions for Romney in this small, picturesque New Hampshire town, where Republicans are moderate and now-President Barack Obama won the town's 2008 general election with 65 percent of the vote. But although the Republican nominee will have an uphill battle here in November 2012, Romney's campaign knows this is McCain country, and it is up for grabs in the January G.O.P. primary.
He seeks to do better than his last showing here, when, in 2008, he lost by 15 points to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who registered 45 percent. But the pair performed stronger than any other Republican here -- they were the only two to break double digits -- amid a fiery war of television advertising between them.
He has yet to buy television advertising yet, though tonight he told reporters, "I wouldn't expect to be waiting weeks and weeks. It has got to come relatively soon."
Ahead of the television ad wars which may emerge between he and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has purchased on New Hampshire broadcast and cable stations, Romney played up his knowledge of the local political culture.
"You've been in this building before, and you know how every four years, people like me come into this bulding and say how we're going to balance the federal budget," Romney said. But "we just can't keep on going like this or we will ultimately hit the Greece wall, the Spain wall, the Italy wall, and there's nobody big enough to pull us out of this mess."
Romney finds himself just two months from New Hampshire's January primary, but McCain's stronghold on Peterborough developed over years of holding this town in a special place. McCain launched his 2000 campaign with an ice cream social in this same town hall building, netting less than 20 voters; eight years later, it held the last town hall-style meeting of his Granite State bid.
He is to hold a rally in Nashua tomorrow, and address employees at one of the state's largest employers on Monday.