HAMPTON, N.H.- New Year's Eve, just three days shy of the Iowa Caucus and 10 days away from the New Hampshire Primary, Mitt Romney held an early morning breakfast here before heading back to Iowa.
A packed house at The Old Salt Restaurant, Romney was joined by his son Craig Romney, who's been campaigning throughout New Hampshire all week with three of his brothers - all in a effort to secure the state for their dad. The owners packed in almost 500 voters, leaving barely any standing room. Most who showed up couldn't see him, but were able to hear him, as his speech was piped through the venue.
Introducing Romney to exuberant applause, former New Hampshire Governor Judd Gregg said, "We are extraordinarily lucky to have a candidate in our party who has all the attributes that are necessary in order to be a great leader of this nation and we need him today!"
Romney spoke for 25 minutes, and his speech while patriotic took digs at President Obama for what he called failed policies.
Romney spoke of his great love for the United States, instilled in him by his parents. "I love America. I believe in America. I believe in the principles that made America such a powerful nation."
Romney described Obama as a president who didn't understand America and painted a picture of a nation that was being derailed and turned into, quoting Gregg, a "European social welfare state."
"I want America to be good for the middle class again," said Romney. "I know that many people are concerned about the poor as I am. I want to help the poor. Make sure our safety net is strong and able to care for those who can't care for themselves. I'm not terribly worried about the very rich, they're doing just fine, thank you. I want to do very well for the middle class and help people who've had a tough time in this Obama recession."
Taking questions and comments from supporters, Romney spoke about the nation's debt. Citing $15 trillion in debt, Romney said the Obama administration would add another trillion in the next year that would become almost 90 percent of the nation's GDP within Obama's "first term and only term." Applause rippled through the restaurant.
"The idea of America hitting a wall like Europe is hitting," said Romney. "That cannot happen. We have to have a president who will not just close his eyes and pretend there's not a problem. who will actually stand up and propose how we balance our budget."
Romney drew himself as the solution to an Obama presidency. "I will do that. I will cut federal spending, I will cap it and i'll balance the budget."
Romney called Obama's legacy a "footnote in history," accusing the president of failing to deal with the major challenges the nation faces, saying that during his time in office, the President had "made it worse."
One supporter encouraged Romney to use President Obama's record against him during debates once he became the GOP nominee. Romney said that "if" he were to become the nominee, "My campaign will be focused on the failure of his administration."
Romney touched on international issues, primarily Iran as a nuclear threat, but turning to the struggling economy, Romney said, "I hope it's gets better. I presume the economy will get better. But it's been the slowest, most tepid recovery we've seen since Hoover. This president is not a success. This president has been a failure. I don't think he's a bad guy. I just think he's overwhelmed and is over his head."
Romney who is leading the Republican pack in New Hampshire, ended with an appeal for votes, asking folks to bring their friends to the polls and reminding supporters, "We need to have a good turnout. We want to make sure that our team is organized, active and motivated!"
Romney made his way through the restaurant for over an hour, winding his way through the crowds, and trying to get to every table. Signing posters, baseballs, and posing for pictures, many people committed their vote to him.
"I want to make sure we send a message from New Hampshire that we've decided who we want to have as our next president and that this message goes across the country."