It's been three and a half months since Mitt Romney celebrated a much coveted in New Hampshire.
Tonight, he chose the Granite State once again, this time, for all intents and purposes, to declare himself the winner in the GOP race to face President Obama in November's general election.
He hasn't locked up the 1,144 delegates required for the nomination yet. And he spoke as the results of today's five primaries – in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island – were still trickling in, yet that didn't stop Romney from getting right to the point.
“After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence – and gratitude – that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility. And, together, we will win on Nov. 6," Romney told the capacity crowd in the Manchester Radisson's refurbished armory. "To all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I’ve met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer. A better America begins tonight."
Even before he delivered his remarks, however, there were many local groups - Democrats, Occupy protesters, Ron Paul supporters and NH Tea Party members - already criticizing the former Massachusetts governor's anticipated message.
Following the speech, Obama for America press secretary Ben LaBolt released the following statement this evening:
“The title for Governor Romney’s speech tonight should have been Back to the Future, because he has proposed a return to the same policies that got us into the economic crisis in the first place – forcing the middle class to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, letting Wall Street write its own rules, and eliminating investments in the security of the middle class. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Governor Romney believes that showering the wealthiest Americans with special giveaways will make the middle class thrive. We have tried those policies before. They didn’t unleash growth, they didn’t spur job creation and they didn’t boost the middle class. And while Mitt Romney praised those policies in 2004, they led to a recovery that produced seven times fewer private sector jobs than the President’s policies, despite a significantly milder recession compared to the one the President faced coming into office.
“This election will be a choice between two candidates, two records, and two visions for the country. The President brought the economy back from the brink of another Depression, bet on American workers to spur the comeback of the American auto industry and American manufacturing, kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and refocus on al Qaeda and fought every day to build an economy where hard work paid off and responsibility are rewarded. Governor Romney referred to himself as the ideal Tea Party candidate, and his policies earn him that title. He would stack the deck against the middle class, pull the rug out from under growing sectors of our economy like manufacturing and clean energy and promote giveaways to Americans who can afford to lobby for them.
“Mitt Romney has spent the past year out on the campaign trail tearing down the President with a negative message that even Republicans who have endorsed him have criticized. This marks the end of that monologue. Now he must put his record and his agenda next to the President’s.”