CONCORD, N.H. — Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney took a quick lap through the New Hampshire state Capitol Monday morning to shake hands, mug for the cameras and file the necessary paperwork for his name to appear on the primary ballot in January.
Romney also came calling with a new ally in tow — former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who took the opportunity to make his endorsement of Romney official.
Sununu, also a former chief of staff to former president George H.W. Bush and perhaps New Hampshire’s most prominent Republican, said he took his time making a final decision on whom to support for the GOP presidential nomination because he wanted to watch several debates and “give all the candidates that I was thinking about a fair shot.” He said Texas Gov. Rick Perry was the last contender eliminated from his to-consider list; he also said that Romney’s foreign policy speech in South Carolina earlier this month sealed the deal.
Sununu also took a swipe at Georgia businessman Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax reform plan, which proposes a 9 percent national sales tax. Sununu noted that New Hampshire, with no sales or income taxes, “is not a good state for a sales tax.”
Sununu defended Romney’s recent embrace of a flat tax, which comes following news that Perry would announce a flat-tax proposal this week and also represents a significant shift for Romney, who in the past criticized a flat tax proposal as a “tax cut for fat cats.”
Sununu said that all Republicans, including Romney, are rightly in support of a “flatter tax,” but that a true flat tax is a difficult sell.
“If you’ve ever had to really pass tax legislation, you know that what you can get is a flatter tax,” Sununu told reporters. “If you go to a straight flat tax, it’s awfully hard to deal with issues like the mortgage deduction, but we’ve got to flatten the tax rate in this country in order to get things moving again. Governor Romney is committed to flattening the tax rate.”
Some uninvited guests tried to appear with Romney too, including “Flipper” the dolphin, who walks the earth as a giant metaphor for Romney’s “flip-flopping” positions on a number of issues. Other visitors were a few advocates for protecting Social Security and President Obama’s health-care overhaul.
But Romney’s campaign team is nothing if not well-organized. Matt Landers, a young member of Romney’s New Hampshire campaign staff, covered Flipper man-to-man like he was playing in the Final Four. Landers blocked Flipper with a well-placed two-foot-by-three-foot Romney campaign sign so that none of Flipper’s cute-and-fuzzy face could make it onto the evening news.
Flipper, who declined to give his real name or who is paying him, wasn’t exactly energized. Following Romney out to his SUV after a rally in front fo the Capitol, the costumed bird-dogger offered an occasional and half-hearted “Mitt Flip” or “Mitt Flop," but he was so hard to hear that most of the camera crews paid him no attention at all.