Romney Vows ‘Performance of a Lifetime,’ But Can’t Escape Gingrich Questions

Dec 3, 2011 4:17pm
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(Jim Cole/AP Photo)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Committing to run a “campaign performance of a lifetime,” Mitt Romney told supporters gathered in New Hampshire today that as his opponents have risen and fallen, he has been “steady throughout the storms.”

“I’ve been able to withstand the scrutiny and still remain a strong contender, I hope that continues to be the case,” Romney said at Saturday’s event, dubbed “Earn it with Mitt” by the campaign. “I believe in the final analysis, as people give a final look to this race, whether there are two contenders or eight — and by the way, it almost always comes down to two — I hope to be the last person standing.

“We’re going to have to do an awfully good job to win this thing,” he said. “It’s not just going to be given to us. We’re not going to be anointed the next President of the United States.”

The campaign pre-released statistics on the events of the day, which was also referred to as “Super Saturday,” estimating that since launching his campaign in June, Romney has addressed more than 3,500 people during 17 town halls. His campaign has distributed 11,000 yard signs and made 200,000 voter contact calls and on Saturday alone, 500 volunteers were scheduled to spread out around the state and 12,000 calls to voters would be made, according to the campaign’s count. The Romney campaign has nine staffers and one consultant on its payroll in New Hampshire.

Romney spoke alongside Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty in a restaurant parking lot in downtown Manchester, where supporters braved the crisp weather to hear the duo speak. Romney focused nearly entirely on President Obama, steering clear of addressing Newt Gingrich’s recent rise in the polls.

Slamming Obama for his recently announced 17-day vacation in Hawaii, Romney rallied supporters in the Granite State, telling them, “Seventeen days. Seventeen-day vacation. When you consider all the golf, all the vacations, a new 17-day vacation, I’m thinking of that old song back in the 1960s, remember that, the one that was called ‘My Boyfriend’s Back,’” said Romney, quoting the oldies band The Angels. “And they said in there, ‘my boyfriend’s back, he’s going to give you a permanent vacation.’”

“That’s what we’re going to give Barack Obama — a permanent vacation,” Romney said.

Drawing on gold medal-winning figure skater Sarah Hughes’ performance in the 2002 Olympic Games that he ran, Romney drew an analogy to her remarks during a press conference in which she thanked God for the performance of a lifetime, explaining how Hughes had thanked God for being able to “skate the performance of [her] lifetime,” Romney said that’s what his campaign is “going to have to do.”

“To get these guys ripped out of the power they want so desperately to hold on to we’re going to have to carry out the campaign performance of a lifetime,” he said. “All of us, we’re going to have work hard, we’re going to get the job done, you guys.”

Romney appeared cheerful, coming off a week when he was scrutinized in the press for his poor performance on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” shaking hands and laughing with supporters, insisting on meeting more voters before holding a press availability — his first since Nov. 23.

Asked whether he’s concerned Herman Cain’s supporters might shift to back now-surging Newt Gingrich, Romney said, “I don’t think people have really settled down in a final way to decide who they’re going to support in the nomination process. I hope that they give us a good careful look, that they see the work we’re doing and the commitment of our people and recognize that what America needs right now is a leader and I hope that as they evaluate the various candidates they’ll conclude that I’m the leader America needs.”

Asked a few times about Gingrich, Romney did not use the opportunity to go after his opponent, saying only that “over time, the speaker will lay out his positions, I can look at those and see where we have differences.”

“I believe in the final analysis, as people give a final look to this race, whether there are two contenders or eight — and by the way, it almost always comes down to two — I hope to be the last person standing,” said Romney.

Romney himself took to the streets of Manchester, knocking on doors and hanging campaign flyers on doorknobs, poking fun at a sign as he stood on one porch, “There it is … no solicitors please.”

But Gingrich still seemed to be on the mind of at least some people Romney greeted today, including Dr. John Merrick, whose door Romney knocked on.

“Hey there!” said Romney, greeting Merrick at his doorstep.

“Newt Gingrich just went out the back door,” said Merrick, as Romney threw his head back laughing, shortly thereafter thanking the doctor for his support.

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