Rivals go hard after Romney, who goes after ObamaMANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential rivals repeatedly attacked him as a candidate of the status quo and a timid, less-than-reliable conservative Thursday as they simultaneously sought to slow his campaign momentum and personally audition for the role of conservative rival-in-chief.
By: Associated Press, Worthington Daily Globe
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential rivals repeatedly attacked him as a candidate of the status quo and a timid, less-than-reliable conservative Thursday as they simultaneously sought to slow his campaign momentum and personally audition for the role of conservative rival-in-chief.
“Don’t settle for less than America needs,” said Rick Santorum, eager to capitalize on his second-place finish behind the former Massachusetts governor in this week’s Iowa caucuses, a scant eight votes off the pace.
A heavy favorite to win New Hampshire’s primary next Tuesday, Romney all but ignored his Republican rivals as he campaigned in two states. Instead, he criticized President Barack Obama as a “crony capitalist. He’s a job killer.”
Without saying so, the rest of the field appeared to share a common campaign objective — hold down Romney’s vote totals in New Hampshire, then knock him off stride 11 days later in South Carolina, the first Southern primary of the year.
Romney benefited handsomely from having several rivals split the vote in Iowa, where his winner’s share was roughly 25 percent.
“Gradually you are going to see we have a difference of opinion about which will be the last conservative standing,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told reporters as he campaigned in New Hampshire. “But I think you’ll eventually come down to one conservative and Governor Romney and he’ll continue to get 25 percent.”
Also vying to emerge as Romney’s chief rival were Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry awaited in South Carolina.
“We can’t afford to have a status quo president. We can’t afford to have a coronation for president,” Huntsman said in Durham, N.H.
Gingrich unveiled a new television commercial aimed at voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina that cited one review of Romney’s jobs program as timid and nearly identical in part to the president’s.
“Timid won’t create jobs. And timid certainly won’t defeat Barack Obama,” the ad said.
Ironically, in a year in which polls show the economy is overwhelmingly the top issue for voters, the first two contests are in states with low joblessness — 5.7 percent in Iowa and 5.4 percent in New Hampshire.