By Michael A. Memoli
8:13 AM PST, November 22, 2011
There is a general-election feel to President Obama's trip to New Hampshire today, with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and state conservatives mobilizing to greet him on his first visit there in nearly two years.
Obama's trip is the latest in a string of visits to key swing states to sell his jobs program. Today he'll urge Congress to renew the payroll tax cut and provide new relief for small businesses.
Romney, a former governor of neighboring Massachusetts who owns a home in the Granite State, is using the president's trip to launch his first paid advertising of the 2012 race (see video below). His minute-long ad excerpts a campaign speech Obama gave in Londonderry, N.H., just weeks before the 2008 election, when he promised a "rescue plan for the middle class."
"I’ll make sure that America is a job-creating machine like it has been in the past," Romney says in the second half of the spot. "It’s high time to bring those principles of fiscal responsibility to Washington."
Romney surrogates are also expected to be out in force to "bracket" the president's event. Separately, tea party groups are planning a show of force outside the Manchester school where Obama will speak.
And the Union Leader newspaper, an influential voice in state politics, today ran a scathing front-page editorial reminding Obama that voters rejected him in the state's 2008 primary in favor of Hillary Clinton.
"Four years ago, primary voters here tried to tell the nation that this wet-behind-the-ears socialist wannabe was the wrong man," the paper said. "Here is hoping that seven weeks from today, primary voters here will put the nation on a path to unseating this glib, clueless disaster of a President."
Romney hopes that process begins with a victory for him there in the nation's first primary on Jan. 10, and he is making the most of an opportunity to again stay above the intraparty skirmishing and portray himself as the logical challenger to Obama next fall.
A new Suffolk University poll in the GOP race in New Hampshire shows Romney is indeed the favorite there, with 41% of the vote. Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are tied for a distant second at 14%.
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