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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney and John McCain arrive to cheers at Central High School in Manchester Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney greets the crowd after making remarks at Central High School in Manchester with Sen. John McCain Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney and John McCain embrace at the start of their joint campaign stop at Central High School in Manchester the day after the Iowa caucuses Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Candidate Romney is surrounded by media after making remarks at Central High School in Manchester with Sen. John McCain Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Romney meets the crowd at Central High School in Manchester Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney makes a point to the crowd while campaigning at Central High School in Manchester the day after the Iowa caucuses Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney makes a point to the crowd while campaigning at Central High School in Manchester the day after the Iowa caucuses Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney, Central High School, Manchester Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney takes back a microphone handed to him by 11-year-old Michael Anglin of Manchester after the youngster asked him a question during the Central High School campaign stop Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John McCain raises his voice while making statements for candidate Mitt Romney at Central High School in Manchester Wednesday, January 4, 2012, the day after the Iowa caucuses.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    Mitt Romney makes a statement at Central High School in Manchester with John McCain by his side while campaigning in New Hampshire the day after the Iowa caucuses Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel


    John McCain listesn to Mitt Romney at Central High School in Manchester while the duo campaigned in New Hampshire the day after the Iowa caucuses Wednesday, January 4, 2012.
  • Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich talks to supporters during an event at the Holiday Inn in Concord on Wednesday, January 4, 2012.



    (Greg Lindstrom/ Monitor photo)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Romney gets support from McCain, digs from Gingrich in day after Iowa win

MANCHESTER – Fresh off a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney brought the New Hampshire primary gold standard – two-time winner John McCain – with him to kick-start the stretch run to Tuesday’s first-in-the nation primary.

“I am really here for one reason, and one reason only, and that is to make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States,” said McCain, the U.S. senator from Arizona who defeated Romney in the New Hampshire primary four years ago.

“New Hampshire is going to catapult him to the Republican nomination,” McCain told a crowd of Romney supporters at Central High School.

Coming off a late night in Iowa, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, looked stuck in neutral before a relatively small crowd of supporters.

“What a squeaker,” a smiling Romney said to the crowd. “It sure is nice to have a win, but my question is, can we do better here in New Hampshire?”

McCain had some fun at Romney’s expense.

“I almost forgot to congratulate him on his landslide victory in Iowa,” McCain quipped.

Romney gave a flat version of his standard stump speech. Entirely ignoring his GOP rivals, Romney predicted President Barack Obama will try to win re-election through attacks against him.

“In this campaign, there is going to be every effort on the part of the president to distract the American people from his record,” Romney said. “We are going to have to bring that home.”

Perhaps sensing the lack of positive energy, McCain tried to pump up his favorite candidate by lodging his own offensive against the incumbent in the White House.

“Mr. President, you can run but you can’t hide from your ruinous record of creating this monstrous debt and helping sink this economy even lower and endangering our national security, which is why we need Mitt Romney to turn this economy around,” McCain said.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley took delight that Romney’s turnout was one third the crowd that showed up when Obama visited the school last month.

“I had a bigger turnout for my Joe Lieberman rally,’’ Buckley said, referring to the Connecticut senator’s failed run for president in 2000.

The latest Suffolk University tracking poll had Romney with 43 percent of the vote with Texas congressman Ron Paul in second with a third of that support, at 14 percent.

All the other rivals were in single digits, though former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum had gotten an uptick from his near-win in Iowa and was within striking distance of third place.

Romney’s other problem is he has a stalker in residence: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who served notice he’s determined to take Romney down a peg just as Romney’s Super PAC did Gingrich in Iowa with millions in attack ads.

Out before voters Wednesday, Gingrich played nice with a professorial talk on education at a Concord Holiday Inn town hall style forum.

During media interviews throughout the day, Gingrich vowed to draw his bright line contrast between himself, a young soldier of the Reagan revolution for conservative policies and Romney, a ‘’Massachusetts moderate’’ who was once pro-choice on abortion and supportive of gun-owner restrictions.

“I was a Reagan Republican, while he was an independent,” Gingrich said.

“I was trying to help re-elect George H.W. Bush, while he voted for (Democrat) Paul Tsongas. There are some very big gaps between where Romney is and where most Republicans are.”

Gingrich insisted his won’t be the stiletto attack against Romney that whittled Gingrich from overwhelming favorite in Iowa to fourth-place finisher in three weeks.

“There is a difference between laying out a comparison … and going negative. We’re not going to run the kind of attack ads he’s been. We’re not going to run ads that lie about his record, but it is fair to say that as a Massachusetts moderate, his record is very dramatically different from a Reagan conservative,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich praised Santorum as a fellow conservative “rebel.”

“I find it amazing for him to say (Romney) is the most electable Republican, when he can’t even break out from his own party,” Gingrich said.

Santorum returned the praise with sympathy for the “pummeling” Gingrich took at the hands of Romney’s Super PAC.

At the Romney town hall, there was a poignant moment when young Michael Anglin of Manchester asked what would become of Iraq now that American troops have left. Anglin’s soldier father was wounded in Iraq.

McCain said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has revealed President Bush intended to keep 20,000 American troops in Iraq, but Obama was determined to “fulfill his campaign promise.”

“’He has now fulfilled his campaign promise, and things are in very serious shape in Iraq as most of us predicted,” McCain said.

“Iraq is unraveling and the tragedy of all of this, my friends, is, it didn’t have to unravel.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.