MANCHESTER, N.H. - Every minute counts ahead of tomorrow's first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary and when it comes to tearing down the front-runner, last minute attacks count the most.
So with less than 24-hours to go before Election Day dawns here in the Granite State, Mitt Romney is coming under heavy fire, both from his Republican opponents and from Democrats who have adopted a laser-like focus on his work at Bain Capital.
The Democratic National Committee is out with a new web video this morning, specifically hitting Romney for his claims that he created 100,000 jobs during his time at the investment firm. The video, titled "#MittsBogusMath," is the first one unleashed by the DNC targeting Romney's work at Bain. (WATCH: http://bit.ly/xi4udc)
"Why is Mitt Romney misleading the public about his work at Bain?" DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in a statement. "Because if they knew what he really did - putting profits over people - making a buck or a few million of them no matter what it took or who it hurt, he could never get elected president."
And it's not only the Democrats who are employing the Bain strategy.
As ABC's Elicia Dover reports, a super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, Winning Our Future, today released the trailer to its 27-minute movie, "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," described on the PAC's web site as "one raider and his firm" and how they "destroyed" the American dream for "thousands of Americans and their families - Mitt Romney and Bain Capital." http://abcn.ws/xEsN1G
The super PAC, which is not affiliated with Gingrich's campaign, but supports him, will spend a whopping $3.4 million to air the ad in South Carolina.
At a campaign event in Rochester, N.H. yesterday, Romney sought to portray himself, not as a heartless businessman, but as someone who understands the concerns of everyday Americans. "We were pulling ourselves up, in some respect, by our bootstraps," Romney said of his early years in the private sector.
But he ran into problems when he told his audience: ""I know what its' like to worry about whether or not you are going to get fired. There are times when I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip."
The former Massachusetts governor, whose net worth is estimated to be in the range of $200 million, did not offer a specific example of one of those times. His campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul chimed in with a statement noting that as "a young person just out of college, he worked his way up the career ladder knowing that his continued employment was by no means guaranteed." http://abcn.ws/wL7Etq
The Bain issue has the potential to seriously damage Romney, and who would have thought that Romney's capitalist background - not his signature health care reform record - would be the focal point of attacks in the heat of the GOP primary battle?
ABC's Jake Tapper reviews the state of the race in New Hampshire on the day before the primary. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/xQ3NWN
DEMOCRATIC COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. In addition to their video today, the Democratic National Committee has produced a flyer that will be passed out at Romney's New Hampshire events. Here's what it says: "Mitt Romney, a millionaire 200 times over, says he's feared getting a pink slip. While Mitt Romney will say anything to get elected - let's make him feel what getting a pink slip is really like."
PUTTING THE PRO-GINGRICH SUPER PAC AD BUY IN PERSPECTIVE: "This is an epic ad buy - enough to make sure virtually everybody in S.C. will see this," ABC's Jonathan Karl notes. "And it's an astounding attack for Newt Gingrich to make - echoing the attack that Ted Kennedy made - successfully - to bring Mitt Romney down in the 1994 Senate race. It's also a primary line of attack the Obama re-election team is prepared to make against Romney."
WALL STREET JOURNAL DIGS INTO BAIN: "The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain's involvement and shortly afterward. Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. Another finding was that Bain produced stellar returns for its investors-yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains." More from the Journal's Mark Maremont: http://on.wsj.com/zRFVny
LAST-MINUTE HUNTSMENTUM? A dispatch from ABC's Susan Archer: "People were spilling into the parking lot of the Bean Towne Coffee House in Hampstead, N.H. on Sunday even before presidential candidate Jon Huntsman arrived. By the time the former Utah governor pushed his way through the cluster of reporters, the small coffee shop was standing room only. Thrilled by this new-found attention, Huntsman jumped up on the coffee shop's counter to give a condensed version of his stump speech and rally the troops. Then he jumped down into the crowd to shake a few hands. Huntsman, who has devoted the majority of his campaign to New Hampshire, said today's turnout was proof that his candidacy is finally gaining steam. 'You're seeing a market movement right here, there's no question about it,' Huntsman said, beaming. 'I can feel the surge on the ground. It's very real. … It's that wave.'" MUST SEE PHOTO (Huntsman speaks to voters from a counter-top): http://abcn.ws/xK4gfJ
NEW HAMPSHIRE: BY THE NUMBERS. A new WMUR poll of New Hampshire GOP voters shows Romney maintaining his lead in the Granite State, but as Andy Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center says, "Two days left and this race is wide open, maybe not at the top, but certainly for the second slot." The poll was taken Jan. 5-8. http://bit.ly/zQ0TRa
Here's the breakdown:
Mitt Romney 41%
Ron Paul 17%
Jon Huntsman 11%
Rick Santorum 1%
Newt Gingrich 8%
Rick Perry 1%
Buddy Roemer 1%
ROMNEY-CHRISTIE RALLY GETS OCCUPIED. "At a rally meant to be all about boosting support for Mitt Romney, protesters instead took center stage, evoking colorful responses from both Romney and his outspoken surrogate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who at one time referred to one of the protestors as 'sweetheart," ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Exeter, N.H. "'Really?' said Christie, as soon as protestors interrupted him, the second outburst of the night from the group, who had already gone after Romney. 'You know, something may go down tonight, but it ain't going to be jobs, sweetheart.' 'See it's this confusion that's out there because if she was in New Jersey like these Jersey girls out there she would know that we've created 60,000 new private sector jobs after Jon Corzine killed 120,000,' Christie said. 'And if she wasn't so blinded by her Barack Obama-induced anger, she'd know that American jobs are coming back when Mitt Romney is the next president of the United States, and if she wasn't so disorientated by the loss of hope and change she'd understand that Mitt Romney is the hope for America's future." … Romney, who has dealt with protestors a few times now during his campaign events across the country, quickly shot back, 'Oh, this is our regular crowd here.' 'We're happy to have you guys express your views he said. 'Next time do it with more courtesy.'" http://abcn.ws/Atjczv
NEW FROM TEAM ROMNEY: "Romney for President today released a new web video titled 'Tomorrow. Earn It.' Tomorrow, New Hampshire voters will have the chance to vote for Mitt Romney, a conservative businessman who will free the entrepreneurial spirit that made this the greatest nation on earth." WATCH: http://mi.tt/z93vJg
NOTED: It's now been more than a week since Romney had held a press conference with reporters, notes ABC's Emily Friedman, who is keeping track. His last one was in Jan. 1 in Atlantic, Iowa, which means he may go the full week in between the Iowa Caucus and the New Hampshire primary without taking questions from reporters (not counting this weekend's two debates, of course).
OBAMA'S NEW HAMPSHIRE SHADOW CAMPAIGN. "President Obama will appear on the ballot Tuesday among 13 other Democratic presidential candidates in the New Hampshire primary While an Obama victory is not in doubt, national Democrats and the president's re-election campaign aren't taking any chances on November," ABC's Devin Dwyer notes. "Obama has opened seven campaign offices across the tiny Granite State - more than any Republican candidate - including four in the past week alone. Since April, his team of paid staff in New Hampshire has grown to around 20, a campaign official said, all collaborating to reengage the base of Obama supporters from 2008 and reach out to new voters for 2012. Obama volunteers in New Hampshire have held more than 500 trainings, phone banks and neighborhood canvasses over the past eight months, contacting potential voters through 3,200 in-person conversations and tens of thousands of phone calls, according to the campaign. 'We've been building our neighborhood team volunteer leadership in every state in this country,' Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said on a conference call with reporters Jan. 4." http://abcn.ws/AC2Qam
RON PAUL HAS HIS EYES ON SOUTH CAROLINA. "Ron Paul is already looking forward to the next presidential contest in South Carolina, though New Hampshire hasn't yet cast a single vote in the first-in-the-nation primary," ABC's Jason Volack writes. "Speaking to a packed house in Meredith, N.H., on Sunday night, Paul said he plans to be on the ground in South Carolina within 12 hours of Tuesday's results. 'South Carolina will be a nice test for us, because it's a bigger state and if we do well there, that will encourage the fundraising and it alerts other people to the message,' said Paul. As for strategy, Paul admitted that he is competing heavily in the caucus states. Along with buying television advertising in South Carolina, ABC News has learned that the Paul campaign has spent money on direct mail in Louisiana, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington and North Dakota. And he and Romney are the only candidates who will be on all the ballots." http://abcn.ws/wLfxGg
IS NEWT GINGRICH OBAMA'S 'BEST FRIEND'? So says Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld. "Bring out the big-boy diapers. Newt Gingrich is throwing another tantrum, but instead of trashing the federal government, he's trashing Mitt Romney - and damaging the GOP's hopes of taking back the White House. Gingrich, despite sinking in the polls, is going nuclear on the former Massachusetts governor on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, and now it looks personal. Gingrich, dubbed 'Crybaby' by the media for his ego-driven antics as House speaker in 1995, is now performing in 'Crybaby, the Sequel.' It's fitting that Gingrich yesterday continued to attack Romney in a Manchester restaurant next door to the Obama campaign headquarters, because right now he's the president's best friend. His strategy of taking down Romney is right out of the Ted Kennedy and DNC playbook - casting Romney as a corporate villain who 'looted' companies and laid off workers." http://bit.ly/w8UH34
A REQUIEM FOR A PRIMARY. "As a reporter chronicling his ninth New Hampshire primary (dating back to the days when George Bush boasted that he was 'up for the Eighties'), I can recall no contested race in either party this devoid of energy. It feels like the primary is being conducted underwater, with every movement slow and exaggerated," veteran political reporter Walter Shapiro observes in the New Republic. "The spate of debates has pre-empted much of the personal campaigning that has been a cherished New Hampshire trademark. Rick Santorum even spent most of Sunday in South Carolina. Ad spending is down sharply with only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul running enough TV spots to make an impression on the casual voter. During the 1996 and 2000 Republican primaries, Steve Forbes spent so lavishly on television that the plush new headquarters of WMUR (the dominant station in the state) was jokingly dubbed, 'The House That Steve Forbes Built.' Now it might soon be called, 'The House That the 2012 Republicans Sent Into Hock.'" Don't miss Shapiro's predictions for what he calls the "We-Try-Harder sweepstakes for Number Two": http://bit.ly/yf3va1
RICK SANTORUM PLANTS A FLAG IN SOUTH CAROLINA. From ABC's Shushannah Walshe in Greenville, S.C.: Rick Santorum returned to South Carolina yesterday to send a signal to the state that he's competing in the Granite State, but it's here that he thinks he can win. "Here in South Carolina, it's game on," he told Republicans at the Greenville Republican Party Fundraising Dinner Sunday evening, repeating his now-famous phrase from his speech after his virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses. At two stops in Greenville, he contrasted himself with Mitt Romney, who is still at the top of the polls here, and asked conservatives in the state to coalesce around him as the non-Romney candidate, telling voters, "South Carolina has to speak clearly." "We do not need just a little better than what we have now. We need big change in Washington, D.C. You have an opportunity if we rally around," Santorum said, urging conservatives not to splinter, while referring to Romney without mentioning his name. http://abcn.ws/w0HwhV
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS…. "The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today over the controversial Texas redistricting map, setting the stage for what could be the most high-profile voting rights ruling in decades," reports Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz. 'It's totally unpredictable what the court would do,' said former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas), a redistricting expert. … Redistricting and election law experts argue there's a wide range of ruling options for the high court - anything from implementing an existing map to using the Perry v. Perez case as a vehicle to gut a pivotal part of the Voting Rights Act. Either way, the stakes are incredibly high for this cycle and for the future of election law." http://roll.cl/zz7epW
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX: NEW HAMPSHIRE TONIGHT: "Governor Charles E. 'Buddy' Roemer will meet with New Hampshire citizens, volunteers, supporters, and friends to watch his LSU Tigers take on Alabama in the National Championship Game on Monday night. The event will take place at 8:30 PM at Scorpions Bar and Grill on the campus of the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Scorpions Bar and Grill is located at 45 Main Street, Durham, N.H. 03824. This event is free and open to the public as well as the press."
@ RyanLizza : In terms of how Romney would govern, the economic ideology of the GOP right now is far more important that the economic ideology of Bain.
- Mitt Romney will start the day at a breakfast with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce. Later, he will hold a town hall in Hudson and a grassroots rally in Bedford.
- Rick Santorum is back in the Granite State, with stops in Nashua, Salem, Derry, Somersworth and Manchester. He will also hit the airwaves with several media appearances.
- Ron Paul will meet with supporters in Manchester, Hollis and Stratham, New Hampshire.
- Newt Gingrich will take his bus tour through Dover, Manchester, Nashua, Hudson and Concord, New Hampshire.
- Jon Huntsman will visit local businesses in Lebanon, Claremont, Henniker, Concord, Dover and Nashua, before ending the day with a "Restoring Trust" rally in Exeter, New Hampshire.
- Rick Perry will continue to campaign in South Carolina, with meet and greets in Anderson, Pickens and Greenville. His wife, Anita Perry, will also attend events in Anderson and Rock Hill.
-ABC's Joanna Suarez
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