Republican stars stump for Romney

By Deb Price, AFP

EXETER, New Hampshire — Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney, leaving little to chance ahead of the New Hampshire primary, brought out the party’s big guns on Sunday to help him woo voters. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the party’s brightest stars, home-state favorite Senator Kelly Ayotte and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty all turned out to rally support for Romney before Tuesday’s vote. “He actually knows how our economy works,” Ayotte said of the millionaire venture capitalist at the first of the day’s two rallies — at the ornate, velvet-curtained opera house in the small town of Rochester. At least 100 people mobbed the former Massachusetts governor, pleading for autographs and handshakes, as he slowly squeezed through the rambunctious crowd to his campaign bus. Romney warned that “the soul of America” will be at stake in the November general election, and accused Democratic President Barack Obama of wanting to turn the United States into a “European-style welfare state.” “I need your vote!” Romney said. Christie, speaking at the second event, said the country needs an optimistic president like Romney, calling Obama “the most pessimistic man I’ve ever seen in the Oval Office.” But Romney — who pollsters say still has a wide lead over his rivals in the Granite State — met resistance from dozens of protesters linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement at the second rally. “Mitt kills jobs,” demonstrators chanted before being removed by police. Romney has faced charges that his venture capital firm destroyed companies and jobs. He, however, says his company created new companies and turned around failing businesses, in the end creating a net 100,000 jobs.

“Romney destroyed thousands of jobs. And he created businesses that pay low wages,” charged Rose Bookbinder, a 28-year-old union organizer who was among those ejected from the venue.