Romney looks Beyond GOP Presidential Primary
LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — Republicans have yet to cast a single vote but Mitt Romney is starting to sound like he's already won his party's presidential nomination.
The former Massachusetts governor ignored his GOP rivals while speaking to New Hampshire voters Tuesday. With Iowa Republicans set to begin voting in exactly one week, Romney focused instead on President Barack Obama.
"What this president is doing is trying to turn us into an entitlement nation," Romney said inside the packed dining room of the Coach Stop restaurant, hours before he was to head to Iowa to spend the next several days campaigning across that state by bus. "That's a deadening approach to a nation that has always been powered by the pursuit of happiness."
Even when asked about his GOP opponents, Romney avoided any direct criticism and pivoted to the broad issues likely to win over independents, a voting bloc expected to play a critical role in next fall's general election.
"I'm not exactly sure how all this is going to work, but I think I'm going to get the nomination if we do our job right," he said, while promising to reach across the aisle to Democrats if elected. "I'm not going to spend my time bashing the Democrats and attacking them day in and day out, because that makes it impossible to sit down and work together."
In a nod toward the country's surging Latino population, Romney added that he's open to expanding legal immigration.
"It is a great source of vitality," he said. "And to protect legal immigration, and potentially make it larger, we want to stop illegal immigration."
Romney also teased a hypothetical general election sales pitch against Obama in which he'd ask voters, "Do you think you're better off than you were four years ago?"
"We know the answer to that one," he said with a smile.