With Iowa Win, Romney Focuses On N.H. Primary

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Fresh off a win in the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned in New Hampshire Wednesday. There, he picked up the endorsement of Senator John McCain. Four years ago, McCain beat Romney in the state's Republican presidential primary.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer in for Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Here's how you know the Republican presidential campaign is in high gear. Mitt Romney was in Iowa yesterday morning, in New Hampshire this morning. And later, he'll be spending the night in South Carolina.

WERTHEIMER: Romney is working to consolidate his position as the Republican frontrunner. He won Iowa by the narrowest of margins and hopes for more decisive results in New Hampshire.

NPR's Ari Shapiro is along for the ride.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At Central High School in Manchester, Mitt Romney's introductory music suggested the entrance of a man who had just slain a lion.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome fresh from the Iowa caucuses, Governor Mitt Romney and one of his...

SHAPIRO: In fact, he had just beaten a former Pennsylvania senator in the Iowa caucuses by eight votes. But Romney's attitude is, a win is a win.

MITT ROMNEY: My goodness, what a squeaker but it sure is nice to have a win. I'll tell you. And the question I have for you is, can we do better here in New Hampshire? Can we?

Yeah. Yeah.

SHAPIRO: To help him along, Romney brought the man who beat him in New Hampshire's last Republican presidential primary four years ago. Arizona Senator John McCain said he felt some nostalgia.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I'm really here for one reason and one reason only. And that is to make sure that we make Mitt Romney the next president of the United States of America. And New Hampshire...

And New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him on to victory in a very short period of time. That's why I'm here.

SHAPIRO: Romney has always been more comfortable in New Hampshire than Iowa. He owns a house here, he was governor of the state next door, and he has been an almost constant presence in New Hampshire for the last six years.

But if he was expecting a neighborly welcome, what he got was something quite different. About half the audience questions at this town hall meeting were challenging, some openly hostile.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

MARK: I'm Mark from Occupy Boston and I'm from Occupy New Hampshire. Congratulations on your victory last night.

SHAPIRO: Mark asked why record corporate profits have not led to more job creation.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

MARK: So, would you refine your earlier statement from corporations are people to corporations are abusive people?

SHAPIRO: Romney stood by his assertion.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

ROMNEY: Corporations are collections of people that are trying to have good jobs for themselves and promote the future. And so, corporations are made up of people and the money goes to people, either to hire people or to pay shareholders. And so, they're made up of people.

SHAPIRO: If Romney was hoping for an easier question next, he didn't get it. A woman asked why Romney opposes President Obama's program requiring health insurance for everyone in the country, when Romney created just such a plan in Massachusetts. Romney said one size does not fit all.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

ROMNEY: I'd let other states craft plans that are best for them, because, by the way, what works in Massachusetts won't work in Mississippi and Montana and Texas.

SHAPIRO: Then came a woman who scolded Romney for his aggressive talk about China.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm Chinese and I'm American. And I love this country. I heard all this degrading thing about China here and China there. It just doesn't make me feel good.

SHAPIRO: And then she turned to economics.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL RALLY)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: After 20 years of Reagan economics, trickle down theory, it didn't help me. My tin can is still empty.

ROMNEY: Let me ask you a question. Can you tell me where it's better to live, where the income per person is better than America?

SHAPIRO: That string of tough questions may have just been bad luck. Many people in the audience told me they are strong Romney supporters, and they expect him to do well here in New Hampshire next week.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

KEITH JEFFREY: I think we need someone who has the business acumen to get in and take a scalpel - do like a Bain Capital thing with the government. You know, I mean if it's not working, cut it out and move on.

SHAPIRO: Keith Jeffrey said he's not too concerned that Rick Santorum nearly beat Romney in Iowa.

JEFFREY: To do a famous quote, "Iowa picks corn, New Hampshire picks presidents."

SHAPIRO: The Romney campaign feels far more confident about New Hampshire than it did about Iowa. So confident, in fact, that Romney is leaving the state today for campaign events in South Carolina.

But he'll be back in the Granite State tomorrow, in time for two debates this weekend and more campaigning before the Tuesday primary.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Manchester.

WERTHEIMER: The candidate who came in second to Romney in Iowa is also in New Hampshire this morning.

INSKEEP: Rick Santorum's strong finish in Iowa won lots of attention and guaranteed sharper scrutiny from the media. Now, Santorum has told his story as a frugal guy from a modest background, who played outside coal mines where his grandfather once worked. Today, Bloomberg reports Santorum has come a long way from that beginning, becoming a millionaire in the last five years.

WERTHEIMER: Since losing his Senate seat in 2006, he's been paid for media appearances and served as a consultant for an energy company and a faith-based advocacy group. Bloomberg says, just in the period from January 2010 to this past August, he earned $1.3 million.

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