MANCHESTER, N.H. – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sounded a pessimistic tone here Friday about the work of a congressional committee tasked with achieving long-term deficit reduction.

“I’m not terribly optimistic about the process of the supercommittee,” which has until Wednesday to come to agreement, Romney said. “I hope it works. We all do. But the reports that you get from reading the various journals is that they’re having a difficult time and that they may not come out with a satisfactory recommendation.”

 In his most expansive comments of late on the supercommittee charged with trimming the nation’s deficit, Romney said that not reaching a deal would be “a Faustian bargain” because it would trigger what he called overly severe budget cuts to the Defense Department.  “We’ll see hundreds of billions of dollars cut from military, at a very time that the world is not a safe place and where our military is engaged in conflict – an entirely unacceptable outcome.” 

As he addressed more than 100 local business people at the Devine Millimet law firm in Manchester, N.H., Romney placed blame for the nation’s soaring federal debt on President Obama. 

“Fifteen trillion dollars in debt. It’s an unthinkable number,” Romney said. “When the president was a senator, he considered the 9 trillion of debt in the nation something that was unacceptable -- unpatriotic. Nine trillion.” 

“Now,” Romney said, “we have 15 trillion. He will add by the end of his first term almost as much debt of all the prior presidents combined. It is simply inexcusable for us to have this level of mounting debt year after year after year.” 

Romney took questions on a range of subjects from several audience members. Responding to a question on health care, Romney referred to the Supreme Court decision this week to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

He predicted that the court would overturn Obama’s signature health-care overhaul law.

 “I happen to believe that the Supreme Court is going to strike down Obamacare, and if they don’t, I will repeal it,” Romney said, as the audience applauded. “I will repeal it if I’m president if they don’t strike it down. And maybe it will take a bit of both, meaning they might not strike down the whole thing, in which case parts will need to be repealed. And then I will do in my view what the Constitution intended, which is to give the states the responsibility for caring for their own uninsured.”