BOSTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was on the campaign trail once again Friday, this time talking to voters in Manchester, N.H. Romney traveled to the University of New Hampshire for the first town hall of his campaign.
He formerly launched his second White House bid Thursday with a choreographed speech at the Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, N.H. Friday, though, Romney was unscripted as he took questions from students, faculty and local residents.
WBUR’s Fred Thys was there and joined All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer to talk about it.
Sacha Pfeiffer: Fred, how did Romney come off, especially compared to his other recent appearances, and especially compared to his campaign launch Thursday?
Fred Thys: Well, this is where Romney is at his best. He was off the cuff, his remarks was unscripted, he knows this material cold. He’s kind of like a venture capitalist talking to potential investors in answering all their questions.
Now at his launch Thursday he seemed to be having some trouble at times following the teleprompter so it wasn’t as smooth. What do you make of why his demeanor would be so much more relaxed just 24 hours after his official launch?
I think it’s because he feels best in these kinds of events where he can just discuss ideas with people. He seems phony at some of these rah-rah events, and he seems genuine at something like this where he’s getting real questions.
We in the press, we like to force a narrative on things. Voters generally don’t try to force a narrative on things. They are just genuinely curious about the things that are bugging them, and so they ask politicians about their stance on things.
And so voters, presumably, were trying to figure out Romney’s stance on things Friday. Did he elaborate on any of his policy positions or reveal any new policy positions?
He actually did. Generally, in this beginning presidential campaign here, you’re seeing Republican presidential candidates try to stay away from supporting the idea of climate change. Romney did not do that Friday. He staked out a position admitting that there really is climate change.
I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe that the world is getting warmer, and No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.
So he didn’t shy away from that?
Not at all.
So that’s one issue. What about health care reform? Romney has been taking a lot of flack, of course, about his involvement in health care reform in Massachusetts. Assuming that issue came up, how did he respond?
Well, he reiterated his position that people who have preexisting conditions and already have insurance coverage now, they shouldn’t lose that coverage. But he did make it clear that under a Romney administration, if you have a preexisting condition and you do not already have insurance, you might be left high and dry.
Now this was not entirely a crowd of shipped-in supporters right? There were some people here who came simply to decide how they feel about Romney as a candidate?
That’s right. The woman who asked him about the preexisting conditions, she was somebody who was a big supporter of President Obama’s universal health care coverage law, but she also seemed definitely open to liking Romney if he gave her the right answer. It was very important to her that people be covered if they have preexisting conditions and she was not happy with his answer.
I’m sure that there were people who were invited. People are always invited to these events, generally people who are known to be Republicans and who might get involved in working on your campaign but who haven’t been won over yet, but there definitely seemed to be general public who are not necessarily going to vote Republican.