James Forsyth

McCain and Romney go to the wire in New Hampshire

McCain and Romney go to the wire in New Hampshire
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John McCain and Mitt Romney have both been criss-crossing the Granite state in one last quest for votes. McCain’s Straight Talk Express pulled a decent, but far from spectacular, crowd in Manchester earlier. Mitt Romney filled a school hall in Bedford.

There’s a bond between McCain and New Hampshire voters, as one undecided voter (she’s picking between Hillary, Obama and McCain) told me he’s a maverick and this is a maverick state. McCain was in feisty form emphasising his ability to be commander in chief from day one—working in a reference to today’s incident in the Straits of Hormuz into his remarks—and his outsider status in an attempt to deflect the Romney critique that he is a creature of Washington. 

Turnout is expected to be high tomorrow thanks both to voter interest and unseasonally warm weather; the higher the turnout, the better for McCain who has a lead just outside the margin of error and polls well amongst those not certain to vote. The smart money seems to be on him winning but not blowing Romney away here.

Romney’s event was in stark contrast to his final event in Iowa where the crowd didn’t fill the room and the candidate seemed resigned to his fate. Here Mitt was high-energy and delivered an impressive performance selling himself as a problem solver who could fix Washington. He is still, though, a shameless panderer telling the crowd that at the Salt Lake Olympics he only saw American athletes put their hands on their hearts during their national anthems—something that is clearly hooey to any one who has ever watched a medal ceremony. 

Watching Romney tonight, one wondered why his campaign tried to reinvent him as a hard core social conservative rather than presenting him a, to borrow a phrase, ‘a reformer with results’ who could fix Washington. If Romney had run as himself he wouldn’t have had all these flip-flopping problems and probably would have connected with voters better. His campaign’s attempt to create the perfect Republican primary candidate was the enemy of the good. 

PS Those wanting a great introduction to McCain and what a McCain presidency would mean for Britain, read Matt's intervidew with him from 2005.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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