MANCHESTER, NH — The grassroots Republican criticism of Mitt Romney that has dogged his presidential bid since the start wasn’t absent at one of his last major rallies Monday night. It’s not they don’t think he’ll win. They just still aren’t thrilled with the campaign he’s run.
Even at this late hour, it seems Romney still hasn’t convinced the grassroots GOP that he knows how to do this.
That doesn’t mean they’re not excited about voting for him. The Verizon Wireless Arena, a hockey arena that seats about 10,000, was full for Romney’s 11:00 p.m. ET speech Monday night. The crowd was enthusiastic, staying on its feet and cheering for Romney’s stump speech. Romney largely stuck to the script here, noting at the top how special the moment was.
“Your primary vote helped me win the nomination,” Romney reminded the New Hampshire crowd. “Tomorrow your vote will help me become the next president of the United States.”
The crowd ate it up. Truly it was an enthusiastic political rally. But wandering around before the event kicked off, it took only the slightest question about what Romney could have done differently to get an earful. With no hesitation at all, the Romney voters here reeled off the mistakes their candidate had made.
“I think he’s run a horrible campaign,” Andy Nimmo, a small business owner from Bedford told TPM. Nimmo thinks Romney will win, and handily. But said Romney should have fired his campaign staff long ago.
“To me, when you look at him on TV, it sounds like rhetoric, it sounds plastic, it sounds like he’s being handled,” he said. “You don’t really get the feeling that it’s coming from his heart, but I know him and I know that it is.”
Nimmo complained that Romney’s style on the trail meant that voters didn’t see the real Mitt.
Other complaints were more in keeping with what’s dogged Romney from the GOP base right along — namely that he’s not tough enough on Obama.
“There’s one thing he could’ve done a lot better recently,” said Jan Conroy of Hooksett. “He let [Obama] slide on Libya.”
Conroy also thinks Romney’s going to win. She and others dismissed polls showing Obama ahead as hopelessly overweighted towards Democrats. She said people aren’t expecting the Republican turnout. This election is “personal” for Republicans, she said.
Traditionally, the late night rally on the last day before the election would mark the ceremonial end of the campaign. But in a departure from tradition, Romney was scheduled to hit Ohio again on Tuesday.