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Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign stop in Portsmouth, N.H., Tuesday (Associated Press)

Ahead In New Hampshire, Romney Attempts To Solidify Support

Dec 27, 2011 (All Things Considered / New Hampshire Public Radio)

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Mitt Romney's campaign stops Tuesday in New Hampshire, at small restaurants with largely invited crowds, featured lofty patriotic themes and seemed designed to help him lock down his current base of support in the Granite State.

"America the Beautiful," the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were referenced by the GOP presidential contender during his last bit of stumping in New Hampshire before heading off for a three-day bus tour of Iowa, which holds its caucuses in a week.

Citing a lyric from "America the Beautiful," Romney sought to contrast himself from President Obama.

"We have a president who has a very different view of what America should be than the view of the 'patriot dream that sees beyond the years,'" Romney told a Londonderry, N.H., crowd. "His view is that we should change America. He said he was going to fundamentally change America and he's going about doing that right now. I don't like the direction he's taking. Do you?"

The former Massachusetts governor didn't mention any of his Republican rivals by name, but came close when a voter asked him how he would curtail extreme rulings by federal judges. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has said he'd force them to justify their decisions before Congress.

Romney said that would be a bad idea.

"What I don't want is to say we are going to create a supreme branch of the government known as the Congress. We have a balance of power constitutionally," said Romney. "I don't want one branch, Congress or even the president to assume power above the other branches."

At Geno's Chowder & Sandwich Shop in Portsmouth, N.H., Romney was swarmed by people as he made his way through the tiny lunch spot, which has hosted Republican candidates dating back to Richard Nixon. When speaking to restaurant patrons, Romney worked the room doggedly.

But he had few words for a reporter who asked for his view on the nearby Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which barely survived the last round of base closings.

When asked if, as president, he would he protect the shipyard from closure, Romney laughed and then responded: "I can promise I'll do my very best for the entire nation."

Later, Romney indicated he likes the way this race is shaping up.

"It's fun to be part of presidential campaign, isn't it? This is really something."

And why shouldn't he act like the front-runner? A recent poll by the University of New Hampshire had him with twice the support of his nearest rivals ahead of the state's Jan. 10 primary.

Copyright 2014 New Hampshire Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.nhpr.org/.

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