It’s complacency — voters inclined to support Romney who flip on the news, see polls showing Romney whopping the Republican presidential field and figure: Why even bother voting?
“Let me tell you,” Romney told a huge rally here Saturday morning, “don’t get too confident with those poll numbers. I’ve watched polls come and go. Things change very quickly. It’s very fluid. I need to make sure you guys get your friends to go out, and you vote as well.”
It was an unusual plea from the former Massachusetts governor, who at campaign events sometimes forgets to even ask people for their votes, let alone urge them to rally their friends. But it was in keeping with the furious push his campaign is making this weekend to fire up his supporters in this state whose voters historically break in the final hours.
All week, Romney has held a 2-to-1 advantage over his rivals in the daily Suffolk University/7 News tracking poll. The latest, released Saturday, has Romney at 39 percent, followed by Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) at 17 percent, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) at 10 percent and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. tied at 9 percent.
“The only thing I’m worried about is the complacency with the polls,” said Jason McBride, the Romney campaign’s state director. “Mitt’s in a comfortable position, but we’ve got to keep pushing and pushing until 8 o’clock on Tuesday night. If we turn out our people, we will win.”
McBride said about 500 volunteers from neighboring states have descended on New Hampshire to help this weekend. Together with about 250 in-state volunteers, they plan to make 150,000 personal phone calls to voters and knock on 10,000 doors by Tuesday. The campaign has 15 vans to transport volunteers to targeted neighborhoods and has set up five temporary regional outposts in addition to the state headquarters in downtown Manchester.
“Until you tell me, ‘Yes, I voted for Mitt Romney on my absentee ballot on Dec. 17,’ we’ll keep coming after you,” McBride said.
Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, who has been a frequent presence on the stump for Romney, summed up the campaign’s ethos here in the closing days: “Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving.”
“He’s letting them see him, touch him and feel him,” Sununu said in an interview. “That’s what New Hampshire’s all about. Nobody’s taking anything for granted.”
Asked what worries him about the election, Sununu said: “A 12-foot snowstorm.” He was only half-joking. But snow isn’t in the forecast. Tuesday calls for a high of 42 degrees, a low of 26 degrees and a 20-percent chance of rain in New Hampshire’s southern tier, which is home to most of the state’s population.
Romney is trying to dismiss the suggestion that with victory here seemingly at hand he is diverting his attention elsewhere. He spent Thursday afternoon and Friday morning campaigning in South Carolina and is quickly deploying resources to that state, whose primary will follow New Hampshire’s and is considered a major test of his candidacy.
But Romney returned to the Granite State for a spaghetti dinner Friday night and is trying to show voters here that he is not taking their support for granted.
“People in New Hampshire expect you to work hard, to earn it,” Romney told a few hundred people at the dinner in Tilton. “We’re in a real battle right now. . . . Those polls, they can just disappear overnight.”
Romney brought South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a key surrogate and rising conservative star, to New Hampshire to rally supporters. She introduced Romney at Saturday morning’s event in Derry, where local police estimated about 1,000 people packed the Pinkerton Academy field house.
“Get excited, New Hampshire, because this is what I need: We don’t just need a win in New Hampshire. We need a landslide in New Hampshire. And let me tell you why we need the landslide. Because guess where he’s going next? He’s going to South Carolina,” Haley said.
“Mitt Romney’s gonna win South Carolina, by the way,” Haley continued. “But let’s make it a little bit easier for him. . . . You take care of him here in New Hampshire, I’ll take care of him in South Carolina and let him take care of us when he gets to the White House.”
All week, Romney has been joking about his eight-vote win in the Iowa caucuses — his latest endorser, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), playfully dubbed him “Landslide Mitt” — and he continued the riff Saturday morning in Derry.
“Fresh from that landslide in Iowa,” Romney said, laughing at himself. “Maybe, can we double that number? You know, instead of an eight-vote margin, maybe 16? I sure hope so. I wanna win.”