Obama warns New Hampshire of Romney’s ‘sketchy deal’

MANCHESTER, N.H. – President Obama kicked off a renewed push for the Granite State’s four electoral votes Thursday, cautioning the state’s fiscally minded voters not to accept Mitt Romney’s “sketchy deal.”

The president’s rally on a postcard fall afternoon in New Hampshire’s biggest city was his first in the state since he campaigned here immediately after the Democratic National Convention.

In the intervening weeks, he and his campaign have dedicated much of their energy toward states that have early voting, such as Iowa and Ohio. Of the eight or nine most hotly contested states, New Hampshire is likely to produce the highest percentage of votes cast on Election Day itself.

With just 19 days left until then, Obama returned with a message tailored toward building on momentum the campaign feels it marshaled in Tuesday’s debate.

PHOTOS: President Obama’s past

That’s where Obama first called Romney’s tax plan “sketchy.” The phrase caught the ear of one of his speechwriters, who quickly worked it into the stump speech.

“Listen, New Hampshire, you’ve heard of the New Deal? You’ve heard of the Square Deal and the Fair Deal -- Mitt Romney’s trying to sell you a sketchy deal,” Obama told a crowd of 6,000 supporters. “We know better because the last time this sketchy deal was tried was in the previous administration. Made the same sales pitch, told you the same stuff: Look, if we cut these taxes, the economy’s going to grow so much, you know, deficit’s going to come down, don’t worry about it. It’s like they said we didn’t have to pay for two wars.”

“It didn’t work. And that’s why you’re not buying it. We have been there. We’ve tried it. We’re not going back. We’re moving forward. I need your help to finish what we started in 2008.”

Obama also looked ahead to next Monday’s debate on foreign policy, saying he will be “very interested in seeing what Gov. Romney has to say.” He said he’s kept his commitment to end the war in Iraq, wind down the war in Afghanistan, and that “al Qaeda’s on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”

“One of the great honors of my job is serving as commander in chief and meeting the amazing men and women in our armed services who serve us every single day,” he said. “Every brave American who wears this country’s uniform should know this: As long as I’m your commander in chief, I will sustain the strongest military the world’s ever known.”

INTERACTIVE: Battleground states map

Immediately after Obama’s rally, his campaign in the state kicks off “Around the Clock for Barack,” an RV tour of the state that will make 16 stops in 10 counties in the next 24 hours. Among the participants are state politicos, local officials from Massachusetts, where Romney was governor, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and a member of the band Death Cab for Cutie.

Thursday’s rally marked Obama’s ninth trip to the state as president, the fifth this year.

As quickly as Obama arrived in New Hampshire, he was on his way out, heading to New York to tape an interview on “The Daily Show” and speak at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner along with his GOP rival.

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