MANCHESTER, N.H. – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney defended the actions of his aides accused of buying their state computers and wiping a server clean prior to leaving the governor’s office in 2006, saying that “they all followed the law exactly as it was written.”
“We actually put in 700 boxes of information into the archives that were not required,” Romney told ABC News’ Boston affiliate WCVB outside a luncheon fundraiser at a Manchester hotel. “We followed the law as intended and as written.”
Asked whether he thought politics were in play in regard to the article that brought the aides’ purchases to light, Romney laughed and said, “I can’t imagine politics being involved in a campaign.”
Further questioned as to whether there was cynicism in his response, Romney responded, “No, just humor,” before climbing into his SUV.
In New Hampshire for campaign stops scheduled to last throughout the weekend, today was the first time Romney has been faced by the press since a Boston Globe article on the computer purchases was printed earlier in the week.
The article, which exposed how 11 of Romney’s staffers used their own money to buy their state computers as well as wipe clean the server, has launched a back-and-forth of public information requests. The Romney campaign has requested that current Massachusetts’ Gov. Deval Patrick release any correspondence his staff has had with members of President Obama’s re-election campaign, and the Democratic National Committee, in turn, requested emails from the staffers during Romney’s tenure as governor.
Despite attempts by his staff to quiet the press, Romney was questioned about the article at each of his appearances today – both before and after the fundraiser, as well as after a forum held at the Devine Millimet law firm, the workplace of one of Romney’s senior advisors, Jim Merrill, as well as Ovide Lamontagne, a prominent New Hampshire conservative.
Caught leaving the firm at the end of the day, Romney simply said, “Hey guys,” and, “hi guys,” when confronted by a crush of media asking about the Globe article. He was quickly swept into his waiting SUV.
Late this afternoon, Romney’s campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, used the Globe article as a fundraising plea, sending an email blast to supporters that said, “We already knew that President Obama and his allies have an obsession with Mitt Romney. But their latest plunge into dirty politicking reeks of desperation, proving yet again their willingness to say and do anything to cling to power.
“The Obama political machine recently enlisted its close friend, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, to help with its latest smear campaign against Mitt,” said Rhoades.
The one place Romney was not asked about the computer buys today was during the actual town hall, where voters questioned Romney about his economic policies and his vision for energy consumption in the U.S.
Sticking mostly to his stump speech, Romney altered it slightly when he finished his talk, making a rare plea for votes but remaining confident about his ability to beat President Obama in the general election.
“I hope to have your support and have people here in New Hampshire give me the nod to become to Republican nominee,” said Romney to the packed room, attendants lining a spiral staircase to catch a glimpse of the candidate. “Because if I’m the nominee, I’m going to win.”