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Mon August 20, 2012
After Week Apart, Romney And Ryan Campaign In N.H.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan reunited on the campaign trail today. They held a town hall meeting on a college campus in New Hampshire, the same state where President Obama campaigned Saturday. It was the running mates first event together since Romney added Ryan to the ticket one week ago. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from Manchester.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: New Hampshire is the rare state where anyone with a passing interest in politics can shake hands with a would-be president.
PAUL HARDY: First saw and met Mitt over in Peterborough last December.
SHAPIRO: Paul Hardy(ph) is a doctor from Massachusetts who drove up here during the primaries just to see Romney on the stump. Over the winter, he caught a town hall meeting that was very different from this one.
HARDY: It was much smaller. It was held in the townhouse, which is the town hall and I was overwhelmed that night coming from Massachusetts.
SHAPIRO: Those town hall meetings were intimate, some might say cramped. Today, thousands of people filled a grassy quad on a sunny morning at St. Anselm College.
MITT ROMNEY: Now, you haven't been counting like I've been counting, but this is our 100th town hall since I announced in June, so it's good to be here at St. A's for number 100.
SHAPIRO: The backdrop was a red brick building draped in ivy with a huge blue banner saying America's Comeback Team. It was Paul Ryan's New Hampshire debut on the ticket.
PAUL RYAN: And the way we're going to do this is we're going to elect leadership at the 11th hour.
RYAN: Cue the bells. And only a Catholic guy would be able to get the bells to toll just at the right time at St. Anselm's, you know that?
SHAPIRO: This is the first time Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have gone unscripted before a crowd of voters. Each man started with his typical stump speech, then they took questions. None was especially tough.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: So what are you going to do to calm down the lies the leftists are telling about you?
SHAPIRO: One boy offered more of a comment than a question.
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Obama's right. We do need change. Vote Mitt Romney 2012.
SHAPIRO: Every time Romney responded, he gave his running mate an equal chance to weigh in.
ROMNEY: Thanks. Paul?
SHAPIRO: The first question was about the debt.
ROMNEY: I want to hear what he has to say on this topic. I mean, he's been working on this for the last 14 years.
SHAPIRO: Then came a question about budgets and Romney handed the microphone right over.
ROMNEY: Good question. Thank you. Paul?
SHAPIRO: Same thing with a question about Afghanistan and one on Israel.
ROMNEY: Paul, I've been taking all these first and it's not fair, so if you can - you take this one first and I'll take the next one.
RYAN: All right, you got it, you got it.
ROMNEY: (Unintelligible) I will or I won't, we'll see.
SHAPIRO: Since the Romney campaign became the Romney/Ryan campaign, the guy at the bottom of the ticket has occasionally eclipsed the man at the top. But in New Hampshire, the dynamic is reversed. Romney owns a house here and he's been campaigning in New Hampshire almost nonstop for eight years.
ROMNEY: Gosh, I feel like I'm almost a New Hampshire resident. I come here and - it would save me some tax dollars, I think.
SHAPIRO: Retiree Bill Selfridge(ph) of Nashville couldn't wait to hear Romney speak. But Ryan?
BILL SELFRIDGE: He's not outgoing. He's not - don't seem to be too outgoing so...
SHAPIRO: Some people have said that about Romney, you know.
SELFRIDGE: Well, they're wrong 'cause I met him in the primaries. The only thing is a C-SPAN guy beside me was nudging me to get his picture and I told him to get off.
SHAPIRO: One issue very much on the campaign's mind, even if it didn't come up at today's event, is a comment from Missouri Congressman Todd Akin. Asked whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape, the Republican Senate candidate said yesterday that women don't get pregnant from what Akin called legitimate rape. He said a woman's body can, quote, "shut that whole thing down."
Democrats seized the issue to portray Republicans as anti-women. Romney told the National Review online today, Congressman Akin's comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable and frankly, wrong. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, travelling with the Romney campaign. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.