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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Romney finishes frantic race for White House with Manchester bash featuring Kid Rock

MANCHESTER – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was preparing for Election Day with a late night stop before more than 7,000 supporters at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Romney and his wife, Ann, were scheduled to appear before Granite State voters who in January delivered Romney a pivotal win in the first-in-the-nation primary putting him on the path to the GOP nomination. ...

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MANCHESTER – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was preparing for Election Day with a late night stop before more than 7,000 supporters at the Verizon Wireless Arena.

Romney and his wife, Ann, were scheduled to appear before Granite State voters who in January delivered Romney a pivotal win in the first-in-the-nation primary putting him on the path to the GOP nomination.

In a surprising schedule change, the Romney campaign announced it would campaign Tuesday in Cleveland and in suburban Pennsylvania.

Supporters patiently waited in the near-freezing air in lines more than a mile long that wrapped around the massive sports stadium.

“Hey, what’s an hour’s wait to see the next president of the United States,’’ said John Lovely, of Derry, manager of Lowe’s in Bedford. “My wife and I have been huge fans of Mitt’s for years. We voted for him the first time (in 2008) and are so excited he’s come this far and is this close.”

Huge blue signs hung from the rafters for the “red state” candidate Romney that read “Real Change on Day One,” “Victory in New Hampshire” and his signature slogan, “Believe in America.”

Former New Hampshire House Deputy Republican Leader Fran Wendelboe said she hadn’t seen this level of excitement and optimism for a Republican candidate here since George W. Bush, the last GOP nominee to win narrowly in 2000.

“I just feel in my gut that Mitt Romney is going to pull it out here. There is such a strong feeling out there even among people who might like the president that he’s proven to have been over his head,” Wendelboe said. “Bill Clinton is the only Democrat since FDR to win New Hampshire two times in a row. Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.”

Phil Gengler, a construction company truck driver from Fitchburg, Mass., turned down a seat in the upper section of the arena because his wife, Sandy, doesn’t like heights.

So they dashed downstairs and settled for waiting two plus hours for the candidate on the hockey ice floor.

“He’s a fine American. If he wins, he’ll do us proud. The economy has got to get better if he gets in,” Gengler said.

To keep the crowd entertained while they waited, volunteers used a pressurized machine to launch Romney-Ryan T-shirts into the crowd.

They roared with approval.

Earlier in Lynchburg, Va., Romney implored his supporters to keep on working right until the polls close Tuesday night.

“Let’s make sure we get everyone we know out to vote on Election Day, every single vote,” Romney said.

“Your voices are being heard all over the nation loud and clear, thank you,” he said in Virginia.

“I also want to thank many of you in this crowd that have been out there working on the campaign – making calls from the victory centers, and by putting up a yard sign, in your neighbor’s yard and maybe convincing a co-worker to vote for Paul Ryan and me.”

Warming up the Manchester crowd was Kid Rock, the Michigan recording star who, a month ago, decided while the country made history in electing Obama as the first African-American president, it was time to make a change.

While many national pundits were suggesting a narrow Obama victory was more likely, New Hampshire Republican operative Rich Killion questioned the assumption.

The polls in the Granite State and other battleground states oversample Democrats and Killion believes enthusiasm among Republicans is going to negate any big partisan advantage.

“We enjoyed a huge advantage two years ago when many disillusioned Democrats stayed home. That’s not going to happen this time,” Killion said. “I fail to see the level of intensity of support for the president that was there four years ago. If that falls off a few percentage points, then I see a narrow Romney win here.”

But six-term state Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, countered that view.

“I’ve been really impressed by the depth of the organization and the sophistication of the Obama get-out-the-vote operation,” Campbell said. “At least from our vantage point, I truly think Nashua is going to rock big for the president and Democrats all the way down the ballot.”

The final polls hardly settled the matter as the three surveys together had Obama leading Romney, 49.3 percent for the president to 46.7 percent for the GOP nominee.

University of New Hampshire Survey Center director Andrew Smith predicted Obama would win the state with 51 percent to 48 percent for Romney and 1 percent for Libertarian and ex-New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Obama had slightly higher support among his base, and independents were more likely to vote like Democrats than Republicans two years after the GOP scored massive gains up and down the ballot.

But Smith said Romney’s support among independents has crested in the past several weeks and his support among the undeclared is what makes it so close.

At a Monday afternoon rally across the street from the Verizon Wireless Arena, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry, D-Mass., rallied with Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers union.

The message about 1 million jobs saved by the Obama-sponsored auto bailout was meant to resonate not just here but in Ohio, the biggest prize of this frantic dash for votes in the final days.

One in eight workers in Ohio work in the auto industry though Shaheen tried to press the case that this gambit to give federal loans to the major automakers helped buttress this economy, too.

“It saved more than 23,000 jobs in New Hampshire and that helped preserve other jobs servicing these families all over the state,” Shaheen said.

Kerry recalled his razor-thin victory in New Hampshire over then-President George W. Bush in 2004, which the Obama team has used as its model for survival and a second term victory today.

“I know New Hampshire, and I know you take presidential politics very seriously,” Kerry said.

He noted Romney, as the ex-governor of Massachusetts, trails in his Democratically dominated home state by more than 20 points.

“It tells us that the people who know him best like him the least,” Kerry said.

During questions with reporters, Shaheen dismissed the notion that Obama can win the White House without taking this state’s four electoral votes.

“As we saw in 2000, if Al Gore had won this state, he would have been president,” Shaheen recalled. “What this says is every state matters, and we could be important again so my message is get out there and vote.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).