Rivals criticize Romney on eve of NH primary

January 9, 2012 8:26:29 PM PST
As New Hampshire voters prepared to go to the polls Tuesday for the nation's first primary, GOP candidates exchanged verbal jabs.

While candidate Mitt Romney is still favored to win, his Republican opponents pounced on a comment he made Monday about firing people. It was a difficult election eve for the front-runner.

Despite the confusion when demonstrators disrupted a Romney rally in Bedford, the candidate used the moment to criticize Pres. Obama.

"Why don't you say what's your view, Madam? What do you think? This country is too important to hand over to President Obama for a second term," said Romney.

Earlier, the millionaire former Massachusetts governor ignited a campaign controversy when after saying dissatisfied consumers should have the right to fire their health insurance companies, he added this comment. "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me," Romney said.

"Gov. Romney enjoys firing people, I enjoy creating jobs," said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Republican candidate.

In South Carolina, a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC bought millions in airtime for political ads criticizing Romney's tenure running Bain Capital. Gingrich and Texas Gov. Rick Perry say Romney killed jobs when Bain broke up companies to sell their component parts.

"His company, Bain Capital, with all the jobs that they killed, I'm sure he was worried that he'd run out of pink slips," said Perry.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul greeted supporters at a Manchester restaurant, where teenagers and adult Democrats like Patti Giguere who likes Paul's libertarian message.

"Some of the things that he disagrees with the Republicans are what I disagree with the Republicans, so I guess that's the appeal," she said.

"I think that's where I'm getting all the support, especially from young people,because they're looking for something differen," said Paul.

Candidate Rick Santorum was surrounded by shouting, pushing demonstrators and security staff as he left his final election eve appearance. There were no reports of injuries in the incident.

Obama campaign active in NH, Paul attracts younger voters

While Republicans have the most at stake and are getting most of them attention, the Obama campaign is also active in New Hampshire.

Despite the fact Pres. Obama is unopposed, his Manchester re-election campaign office is as busy as ever. The Obama troops were trying to add to the coalition that won New Hampshire for the Democrat in the 2008 general election.

"We're constantly looking to expand the electorate and we're reaching out to all backgrounds, all faiths and all beliefs," said Frank Benenati, Obama 2012.

Most Republican rallies still look as they did four years ago. The white, male candidates make their appeals to virtually all-white audiences in New Hampshire as they did earlier in Iowa. Belinda Scarborough of Manchester says none of the Republican campaigns reached out for her vote.

"No one's really reaching out and if anyone was to reach out it would be the campaign office, not the person running for office," said Scarborough.

Paul, the oldest candidate at 76, appears to be attracting more younger voters than anyone in the Republican field. Chris Kelly, 17, described himself as a Republican libertarian and Ron Paul supporter.

" His idea to legalize marijuana, and that's definitely a big subject for the younger generation because I think the older generation frowns upon it more than it needs to be," said Kelley of Franklin, Massachusetts.