Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. The Granite State’s junior senator came out publicly for Romney in a rally held in front of the City Hall in Nashua, Ayotte’s home town.
The crowd attending the endorsement was relatively small and lacked diversity, being made up mostly of middle- and upper-middle-class white people. A few protestors were on hand, holding signs denouncing war, Wall Street and Ayotte for allegedly blocking the creation of jobs. Several protestors held signs touting President Obama’s proposed job bill. The protestors were not vocal and did not try to disrupt the campaign event.
The announcement was made 25 yards directly in back of a monument memorializing John F. Kennedy, who launched his successful campaign for the Presidency In Nashua back in January 1960.
A conservative Republican who is serving her first stint in the Senate, Ayotte focused on Romney’s electability in the general election.
“Most importantly,” she said, “there is one person who I know will ensure that Barack Obama is a one-term President and that is Mitt Romney.” Her declaration was met by applause from the crowd. “We cannot take four more years of Obama,” she concluded.
After the speeches were over and the two politicians glad-handed the crowd, they drove several blocks up Nashua’s Main Street to another campaign event, a stop at Jackie’s Diner. Outside the eatery, Romney handed out sandwiches to the crowd in front of the press contingent.
The endorsement is the first made by a Republican Senator for any candidate in one of the states that will host the first presidential nominating primaries and caucuses, including Iowa, South Carolina and Florida. It also is a first by a Republican member of the Granite State’s congressional caucus. U.S. Representatives Charles Bass and Frank Guinta have yet to endorse a candidate.
New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary is scheduled for January 10, 2012.
Romney remains the front-runner in New Hampshire among Republican presidential candidates. In addition to Ayotte’s endorsement, he enjoys the support of former Governor John H. Sununu, who recently served as chair of the state Republican Party. It was Sununu who engineered the GOP’s retaking of the New Hampshire legislature.
Sununu, with the support of the Republican National Committee, helped oust his successor as state GOP chair, a Tea Party activist whom he was afraid would not remain impartial. The move helped Romney, who is looked upon with suspicion as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) by Tea Party enthusiasts and others on the hard right of the GOP.
Romney also has been endorsed by former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (whose seat Ayotte won in 2010) and by an increasing number of prominent Republicans in state office.
Romney came in second to John McCain in the 2008 New Hampshire primary, racking up 31.6 percent of the vote to McCain’s 37.1 percent. He also finished second to McCain nationally, winning 11 caucuses and primaries to the 31 won by McCain.