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The New Hampshire primary is getting closer, and political campaigns are out in full force in the Granite State. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney kicks off a four-day bus tour Wednesday to rally supporters in New Hampshire.
WBUR's Fred Thys caught up with Romney as he returned to New Hampshire Tuesday night.
Bedford is just west of Manchester. It's a prosperous town of Victorian mansions sporting big wreaths this time of year. For some of the town's residents, preparing for the holidays Tuesday night meant making a stop at the town hall to hear Mitt Romney.
"We were shopping, and then we ran into this, so we decided to come by," said Janet Mead, a Middlebury College freshman home for the holidays, who came with her grandmother. She is one of the few people in the room not already on board with Romney.
"I'm a little undecided right now, but I'm sure whatever I hear will either make or break it for me," Mead said.
The Bedford Town Hall is a great place for political events. It's cozy, and with not too big a crowd you can make it feel packed. Former President George W. Bush used it in 2000 when many thought he was the anointed Republican candidate.
A recent Suffolk University poll found that most Romney voters in New Hampshire are committed to him and no longer thinking about other candidates.
Romney has been trying to be seen as the anointed candidate for four years now. In choosing Bedford to kick off his four-day tour of New Hampshire, Romney's campaign has picked a town he won four years ago.
About 80 people are in the town hall to hear Romney. His wife, Ann, recognizes that most of them are already supporters.
"Wow, it's great. I see so many people in the audience I know. Is there anybody in the audience who isn't already voting for Mitt? I don't know. I recognize almost everybody, and that's what happens if you've done this twice," Ann Romney said.
A recent Suffolk University poll found that most Romney voters in New Hampshire are committed to him and no longer thinking about other candidates. And this event is about getting people energized to volunteer for Romney. Romney tries to do that by framing the choice that voters will have to make next year.
"We're Americans, and we will not surrender our dreams to the failures of this president. We're bigger than the misguided policies and weak leadership of one man. America is bigger than Barack Obama's failures," Romney said.
Mead is critical of Romney for blaming the president for hard times.
"I think he blames, puts all the country's problems on other people's backs. I'd like a president who just accepts it and moves on," she said.
Still, overall, Mead is impressed with Romney as a speaker. She said hearing him will probably make her vote for him. She doesn't see any other options, and offers this prediction: "The more people he talks to in New Hampshire, the better off he'll be."
Among the people who get to talk to Romney is Keith Jorgenson. He had a daughter in Iraq and has a son-in-law in Afghanistan. He asked Romney whether he'd leave troops in Afghanistan if need be. Romney tells him he'll listen to commanders in the field, then make his own decision. It's the answer Jorgenson said he expected from a prudent man.
Jorgenson and his wife, Beth, voted for Romney last time. They think he would make a superb president, but they have a concern about how effective he would be as the Republican nominee.
"Is he, frankly, combative enough? And that's what appeals to me about Newt Gingrich," Jorgenson said.
But the Jorgensons are concerned about the baggage that Gingrich brings. With Romney, it's the opposite problem.
"No skeletons, but can he mix it up enough?"
It's uncertainty like that that Romney will try to eliminate on his bus tour of New Hampshire, trying to persuade voters that he's the right candidate to go against President Obama.
This program aired on December 21, 2011.
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