By Luke Vargas
Manchester, N.H. — Speaking to a crowd of 6,000 on an unseasonably warm morning at the Veteran’s Memorial Park in Manchester, New Hampshire today, President Obama delivered a modified stump speech that featured numerous references to his successful one-liners from both this week’s debate at Hofstra University, as well as his first, less successful battle against Mitt Romney in Denver two weeks ago.
At multiple points throughout Obama’s 25 minute speech, the crowd could be heard raining boos whenever Romney’s name was invoked. “Don’t boo now,” the president told them, “vote.”
Unlike other states Obama has recently visited, there is no early voting in New Hampshire.
During an extended segment on education and the role of women, Obama alluded to Romney’s comments that while Governor of Massachusetts he was presented with “binders full of women” qualified for posts within his administration.
“We don’t have to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women who can learn and excel in these fields right now.”
The president donned a pink bracelet on his right wrist, an ode to National Breast Cancer month.
Before the event began, a large team of campaign volunteers fanned out under the bright red and dark yellow foliage of the park to distribute bottled waters, recruit supporters for canvassing and phone-banking, and offer guidance through the steps involved in voter registration and the absentee ballot request process.
As is often the case at campaign stops in southern New Hampshire, a large portion of the crowd traveled from neighboring Massachusetts, but that didn’t deter volunteers from courting those voters as volunteers, too, and making appeals of support on behalf of Elizabeth Warren, who is running a close Senate race against incumbent Republican Senator Scott Brown.
Although Obama lost New Hampshire to his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in 2008, the state proved fertile ground for him come November, when he bested John McCain by nearly 10 percent. This year, however, Obama’s early lead over Mitt Romney – who owns a summer house in the resort town of Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee – has collapsed in recent weeks to a statistical tie, according to RealClearPolitics.
Despite possessing only four electoral votes – a far cry from Ohio’s 18 or Florida’s 29 – the state is nevertheless back in the crosshairs of both campaigns, having been visited by Paul Ryan, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden in the past month alone. This coming weekend, Romney surrogates Sen. John McCain, Sen. Rand Paul, and New Hampshire’s own Sen. Kelly Ayotte will also take the stump at a series of events around the Granite State.
Anticipating Monday’s face-off in Florida against Romney on foreign policy topics, Obama preemptively assailed his challenger’s stances on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a larger portion of his speech dedicated to the responsibilities of being Commander in Chief.
“We’ve got a debate on Monday on foreign policy, and I’m very interested in seeing what Governor Romney has to say about that,” the president said to laughter. “You know, he said that it was “tragic” the way I ended the war in Iraq. Last week he said we should still have troops in Iraq.”
When the crowd again broke out in a chorus of boos, Obama jokingly returned to the mantra of “vote, vote,” a chant the audience quickly picked up, and that election watchers are sure to hear many times in the coming 19 days.