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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks to supporters during an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Demonstrator Matt Richards of Manchester totes a sign along Elm Street prior to an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Demonstrators occupy a street corner along Elm Street during an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Sporting "Momma's for Mitt" t-shirts, from left, Sue Straba, Joyce Nelson and June Cook dance to the band during an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Presidential candidate Mitt Romney whisks his wife, Ann on stage during an event Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Mitt and Ann Romney, along with three sons greet supporters during an event for the GOP candidate Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Arm in arm with his wife, Ann, Mitt Romney greets supporters during an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and his wife, Ann greet supporters during an event for GOP candidate Mitt Romney Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Romney returns to NH for first time since primary, vows job growth if he wins

MANCHESTER – Inevitable Republican presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney gave a stinging rebuke of President Barack Obama’s performance on the economy Tuesday night and vowed that, if elected, he’d deliver more robust job growth.

The former Massachusetts governor returned here for the first time since his first-in-the-nation primary victory in January put him on the eventual path to facing Obama in the general election Nov. 6.

It came on a night when Romney would go five-for-five in North Atlantic primaries wiping out the weak field left behind since ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum exited the race earlier this month.

“I can also say thank you America because after 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and many long nights, I can say with confidence and gratitude you have given me a great honor and a solemn responsibility and together we are going to win on Nov. 6,” Romney said.

And Romney warned a partisan crowd of more than 800 supporters at the Radisson Hotel Manchester that Obama will come after him.

“Because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions and distractions and distortions,” Romney said. “That campaign may have worked in a different place in a different time. But not here and not now.”

Then, Romney borrowed and tweaked a line from the last challenger who beat a sitting president due to a sour economy that put Americans in the right mood to make a switch – Democrat Bill Clinton.

“It is still about the economy and we’re not stupid,” Romney said to loud cheers from the crowd.

Romney coined another way to, in a respectful way, dis Obama as a economic simpleton in way over his head.

“The last few years have been the best Obama can do. But it’s not the best America can do,” Romney said.

A day earlier, the campaign trotted out the general election theme for this occasion and candidate and wife, Ann, his favorite warm-up act, used it in their remarks.

“I know you believe as Mitt and I do that this election will be the most important of our lives. Because of you, a better America begins tonight,” Ann Romney said in her introduction.

In a more down-to-earth and less lecturing style than Romney has often employed, the candidate spoke of the many down-and-out, fiercely patriotic Americans he’s met during his nearly, one-year long journey through 35 states.

“Americans are tired of being tired and many of Americans fortunate enough to have a job are working hard for less,” Romney said. “To all the thousands of good and decent Americans I have met … I have a simple message. Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight.”

Romney has struggled throughout this campaign on how to make his diamond-studded story of super wealth and success as a venture capitalist translate in an appealing way to simple, hard-working voters.

The candidate evoked the rags-to-riches tale of his father, George, who grew up poor, never graduated college but went on to become the CEO of General Motors, Michigan governor and for a brief time, an ill-fated presidential candidate.

“Only in America could my dad become governor of a state where he once sold paint from a car,” Romney said.

A major theme of the 12-minute speech was Romney’s promise if chosen to end what he called the unfairness of America today.

“This America is fundamentally fair,” Romney said. “We will stop the unfairness of school children being denied access to the school of their choice. We will stop the unfairness of politicians giving tax money to friends’ businesses. We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers that they serve.”

For good luck, the band SweetTooth and SugarBabies got the joint jumping just like they did for Romney’s victory party on Super Tuesday night in March when Romney put great distance between his GOP rivals.

And Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, invoked the state’s storied motto in introducing the Romneys.

“Are we ready to change the course of our great country?” Bradley said to the crowd. “That course is going to be live free or die.”

On Elm Street in Manchester, about 30 Romney protesters and Obama partisans held signs and waved to passing traffic. They held signs such as “47th/50 in jobs? No Thanks Mitt” and “Mitt’s (sic) off my Medicare.”

The Obama re-election message of the week was an assault on Romney’s remark that parents should “shop around” for lower-interest college loans.

But Romney late last week endorsed Obama’s call for a federal spending bill that would prevent a doubling in student loan borrowing costs.

“Young Americans have a choice between Mitt Romney’s lip service on issues like student loans and the president’s proven record of standing up for young people,” said Garth Corriveau, a Democratic Party operative and Manchester alderman.

Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Kathy Sullivan said it’s inevitable Romney will try to tack to the middle to win over moderates and independent voters after chasing his party’s very conservative base to wrap up the GOP nomination.

“He will move to the right, move to the left and try to do it all in the space of 24 hours,” Sullivan told reporters. “He can’t hide; Romney ran severely to the right during the primary season. He can’t run from that record.”

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