Romney’s awkwardness on display at final NH rally

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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BEDFORD, N.H. — With just hours before the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney leapt onto a small portable stage inside the gymnasium at McKelvie Intermediate School.

“I see some of you want me to sign something,” the Republican presidential candidate said to those in an overflow room at the school. “I can’t sign everything, obviously. And by the way, the professional autograph seekers, I don’t sign your stuff.”

The awkwardness didn’t stop there. Romney went on to play a game he frequently finds himself doing while on the trail — guessing ages.

“What is she? About six months?” he said, pointing to a young girl in the crowd. “Three months? Oh wow.”

Pointing to another baby, he said: “There’s one there that’s even younger than two months.”

And attempting to connect with sports fans, Romney said: “Let’s see. What’s on TV tonight? Which game is on now? Oh, it’s the Bama-LSU game. This is the college football night.”

Questions about the former Massachusetts governor’s authenticity and ability to connect to ordinary people have followed him throughout his campaign for president since announcing last year. (RELATED: Full coverage of Mitt Romney)

Yet despite this, Romney still appears likely to win the Granite State on Tuesday by a landslide, if the polls and the rally attended by more than 600 people is any indication.


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Romney’s awkwardness on the trail also occurs despite running a near perfect campaign operation that appears more presidential than any of the other candidates: aides with Romney wear earpieces, his advance team cordons off areas to keep Romney physically separate from the rest of the crowd, and his press aides only allow him to answer questions from reporters during designated media availabilities.

At Monday’s rally, he didn’t mention a single Republican primary opponent by name, saving his fire solely for President Obama.

“It’s not a destiny for America, it’s a detour for America,” he said of the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the other Republicans haven’t hesitated to hit Romney in the days leading up to the primary here. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Monday called himself a “Reagan conservative” while calling Romney a “Massachusetts moderate in our party.”

“The average Republican in this country looks at the state that produced Dukakis and Kerry, and it’s not very hard for them to imagine that, in fact, Romney came out of the same culture that produced Dukakis and Kerry,” he said.

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