PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Mitt Romney returned to New Hampshire, where he officially kicked off his presidential campaign, aiming to shore up support and influence any undecided voters before the polls open Tuesday.
"New Hampshire got me the Republican nomination and New Hampshire's going to get me the White House," Romney said Saturday at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease.
As Republicans in the early morning crowd chanted, "Three more days, three more days, three more days," Romney urged them to make the most of those three days and encourage neighbors to support the GOP ticket.
In remarks that focused primarily on the economy, Romney compared his record with President Obama's first term.
"He said he was going to be the post-partisan president, but he's been the most partisan–dividing and demonizing," Romney said. "He said he was going to cut the deficit in half–he's doubled it. He said he would focus on jobs, instead he focused on 'Obamacare' that kills jobs."
The former Massachusetts governor said he also had a record of working across the political aisle, saying another four years for Obama would result in more Washington gridlock.
Romney's critique of Obama included the president's recent remarks that "voting is the best revenge." Instead, Romney said, "Vote for love of country."
WATCH the video of his remarks Nov. 3 in Portsmouth, N.H.
Romney was introduced by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), the last of a gaggle of local speakers that included former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Republican gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontagne, and state Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is among the Romney supporters campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday.
The Romney event was the start of a 72-hour campaign blitz by both presidential candidates. President Obama, with Bill Clinton, is to speak Sunday in Concord. And Monday, less than 12 hours before New Hampshire polls open, Romney will speak at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, alongside Kid Rock.
Before Romney took the stage in Portsmouth to a popular Kid Rock song, supporters waiting to hear his closing argument spoke of his leadership. Margaret Roy, of Merrimack, cited his experience as a key to achieving economic growth.
"He's a complete package," she said. "Obama's been doing nothing but flailing and failing at running this country."
Tom Farrelly of Rye also cited Romney's business resume. "We need somebody who knows what's going on with business who's actually run a business," he said.
Brian Hawker of Portsmouth said Romney is presidential and had earned his vote after the debates. "I think he's finally got the momentum," he said.
Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, issued a statement in response to Romney's remarks:
"Mitt Romney can’t be trusted to work across the aisle as president because he’s never done it before. Despite his claims in the final days of this race, Romney refused to work with Democrats as governor. And throughout this campaign, he has shown himself to be too weak to stand up to the far-right wing of the Republican Party – whether it’s Grover Norquist, Richard Mourdock, or the architects of Republican obstruction in Congress. Mitt Romney’s proven he’s willing to say anything to win, but the American people understand Romney will never bring ‘real change’ – just the same failed policies that created the economic mess in the first place."
Emails blasts from the campaigns offer a glimpse of what the candidates will be hammering away at in the home stretch here: It's still all about the economy. In New Hampshire, the jobless rate is hovering at 5.7 percent, and the most recent unemployment report estimated 42,010 Granite Staters are out of work.