CONWAY, N.H. – At the sixth and final stop of the second day of his whirlwind New Hampshire bus tour, Mitt Romney was faced with a question he’s likely to hear again and again, especially if he becomes the GOP nominee.
“Relatability has been a large issue for you on this campaign trail, and as a college student many people in my generation find it especially hard to relate to you as a candidate,” said 21-year-old Kallie Durkit, who attends Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. “Why should we mobilize for you as a candidate instead of Obama, which we did in 2008?”
For Romney, the answer was jobs. He can create them, he said to the college student from Ohio, and the current president cannot.
“What I can promise you is this – when you get out of college, if I’m president you’ll have a job,” said Romney. “If President Obama is reelected, you will not be able to get a job. That’s the reason I will hopefully get young people who are in college is to say, You know what, I understand what it takes to get jobs in America.”
But Durkit, who had told Romney that she doesn’t believe employers are as interested in graduates from for-profit institutions as they are in those students who went to higher-priced institutions, wasn’t so convinced and later told reporters that she would probably vote for President Obama come Election Day.
The town hall, held at Kennett Middle School, was filled with about 150 audience members, many of whom came prepared with questions.
One man was so prepared in fact, that he came bearing gifts: a bottle of chocolate milk for Romney, whose wife recently said is one of his vices.
“I wondered if I gave you a bribe, if you would tell us if your vice presidential running mate would be from Florida, Illinois or New Jersey?” said the man.
Romney took the gift, admiring the flavor, before telling the man that listing his vice presidential picks would be “presumptuous.”
“We have an embarrassment of riches in the Republican Party right now, the list of people who could be vice president is actually quite a long list,” Romney said.
Asked about illegal immigration, Romney also elaborated more on the ways in which those illegal immigrants who left the country and “got in line” to come back into the U.S. legally would ever actually make it back into the country. One audience member had expressed pessimism that those waiting to get back in would ever actually succeed.
“We have to meter in how many can come into the country legally, and how we do that right is a process that is so opaque and complicated nobody can figure it out. If you want to come here legally, you typically hire some lawyer to try and find some convoluted path to get you in legally,” said Romney.
“We ought to say, If you want to come to this country, do you speak English? Yes, well, that’s a plus. Do you have a high school degree? That’s a plus. Do you have a college degree? Even more plus. Do you have skills that we need or an employer for instance that needs you? Do you have family here? Yes, all those things add pluses,” Romney said.
“You can go on the computer, you can look at your name and see where you are, how many people are ahead of you, how many points they’ve got that are ahead of you, and with time you get more and more points the longer you wait in line, the more points you accumulate, and ultimately when you get to the top of the line, you’re one of those who comes in,” said Romney. “What we have instead is instead of bringing in the people who have college degrees … we just let some people walk over the border or overstay their visa and stay here illegally.”