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Romney in NH

Former Governor Mitt Romney has begun re-airing some old TV commercials as part of his latest media push for the presidency. Romney ads started yesterday on national cable networks as well as TV stations in Iowa and new Hampshire.

The Republican candidate condemned Senate Democrats for siding with their House colleagues on a bill setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. On the trail in New Hampshire, he also answered more questions about his stands on gay rights and abortion and took aim at Democrats in the presidential race. WBUR's Fred Thys has more on the Romney campaign's latest visit to New Hampshire.TEXT OF STORY:

FRED THYS: At a press conference in Hampton, Romney touted his own executive experience, and pointed out that U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, as well as former Senator John Edwards, of North Carolina, have no executive experience.

MITT ROMNEY: And there are some people running for president, particularly on the Democratic side, the three front runners have never run anything in their life. This is the largest enterprise in the world. They've never run a corner store, let alone the government of the United States.

THYS: Later, at a Rotary lunch in Portsmouth, Romney was handed an opportunity to take another dig at John Edwards. A man told Romney that he looks so good, he would vote for him as president.

ROMNEY: You say that to all the guys.

THYS: Picking up on John Edwards' recent embarrassment over paying four hundred dollars for his hair cuts, the man asked Romney, by far the wealthiest presidential candidate, how much he pays for his hair cuts.

ROMNEY: I go down to the bottom of the hill where I live, and there's a guy there who has a salon, or whatever you call it, a nice place where men and women get haircuts, and I pay way too much. I pay him, including tip, fifty bucks, can you believe that? You know, I think John Edwards was right. There are two Americas. There's the America where people pay $400 for a haircut, and then there's everybody else. Thank you.

THYS: Romney has tried to stake out the conservative position in the race for the Republican nomination., but wherever he goes, there is often someone who asks him about what people perceive as shifts in his positions on abortion and gay rights, and the lunch in Portsmouth was no exception. Romney gave the answer he always does.

ROMNEY: With regards to gay marriage and civil union, I have been opposed and continue to be opposed. I'm in favor of traditional marriage. I was probably the most outspoken critic of gay marriage and civil union in the nation. I fought for traditional marriage, and will continue to do so. It's not because I want to be intolerant of gay people. It's about a recognition that the ideal setting for raising a child is where there's a mom and a dad. With regards to reproductive rights and abortion, I have changed my mind on that. When I ran for office back in '94, and when I ran for governor, I was pro-life personally, but the policies I'd said I'd support effectively made me pro-choice, and that was the case until we were debating something which was cloning. It was therapeutic cloning, creating new embryos, new human life through cloning, or creating new human life through what we call embryo farming.

THYS: It was an answer that impressed several people in the crowd, including the man who asked the question, Neil Willett, of Portsmouth.

NEIL WILLETT: My concern was more with the way a typical politician switches positions. It's kind of a neat trick to be elected governor of state like Massachusetts, and then try to get elected, or even nominated, by the Republican party, so I was curious as to what he would say about the changing of the positions. I was pretty satisfied with his presentation, with his answer to that particular question. He sticks to his guns on that.

THYS: Willett, an independent who leans towards Republicans, says he hasn't decided whom he'll support.

WILLETT: I voted for McCain in 2000, and I don't like his stance on the war, so it's a conflict for me.

THYS: In New Hampshire, Romney slowly has gained on U.S. Senator John McCain, of Arizona, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, In the latest University of New Hampshire poll, released earlier this month, Romney was third, with 17 per cent of likely voters in the Republican primary saying they would vote for him, as opposed to 29 per cent each for Giuliani and McCain.

This program aired on April 27, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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