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Granite State gets one more look at Romney

He takes shots at Obama, vows bipartisanship

Mitt Romney, with his wife, Ann, revved up the crowd at a rally at Portsmouth International Airport on Saturday.

ESSDRAS M SUAREZ/GLOBE STAFF

Mitt Romney, with his wife, Ann, revved up the crowd at a rally at Portsmouth International Airport on Saturday.

NEWINGTON, N.H. — Chastising President Obama for urging supporters to vote out of “revenge,” Mitt Romney rallied a chilled crowd Saturday morning with pledges to form an effective, bipartisan coalition on Capitol Hill if he is elected on Tuesday.

“Vote for revenge?” Romney asked an estimated 2,000 people on the tarmac at Portsmouth International Airport. “Here’s what I want to tell you: Vote for love of country.”

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The previous day, Obama had told supporters in Ohio to vote, not just boo at the mention of Romney’s name. “Voting is the best revenge,” he said.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt dismissed Romney’s criticism of the president’s use of the word ­revenge, which he said was used as part of Obama’s standard refrain on the stump ­— “Don’t boo, vote!” — and was intended merely to spur his supporters to take ­action at the polls.

“I think it’s interesting that that’s the closing argument that the Romney campaign is making,” said LaBolt, who characterized the criticism as “desperation.”

With his wife, Ann, the former Massachusetts governor began a whirlwind finale to his long campaign by thanking New Hampshire voters for helping him become the GOP presidential candidate.

“New Hampshire got me the Republican nomination, and New Hampshire is going to get me the White House,” Romney said in the first of four stops in three swing states on Saturday.

Romney hit familiar Republican themes as he exhorted the crowd in a 15-minute stump speech on a blustery morning.

“President Obama came into office with so many promises and has fallen so short,” he said, assailing Obama as “divisive” and attacking his record on the deficit, health costs, ­education, and energy.

“Talk is cheap, a record is real and takes hard work, and he has not been able to accomplish it,” said Romney, who ­offered his one term as governor as a contrasting example of cooperation that turned a budget deficit into a surplus.

“That kind of bipartisanship finally has to be brought to Washington, and I will,” Romney said.

The Obama campaign countered quickly, echoing criticism from some Democratic lawmakers in Massachusetts that Romney had shunned them.

“Mitt Romney can’t be trusted to work across the aisle as president because he’s never done it before. Despite his claims in the final days of this race, Romney refused to work with Democrats as governor,” said Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman. “And throughout this campaign, he has shown himself to be too weak to stand up to the far-right wing of the Republican Party.”

Romney said a second Obama term would produce more of the same: more legislative gridlock, another budget crisis, and a business-hostile economic climate.

“We’ll continue to see the war on oil and gas,” added Romney, who pledged to end American dependence on foreign energy.

In addition, he said, a Romney presidency also would make the needs of students the top priority of education. “The teachers union is going to have to go behind,” Romney said to applause.

“It’s time we lead America to a better place,” Romney said. “I’ve got a clear and unequivocal message for you: America is about to come roaring back.”

GOP running mate Paul ­Ryan was in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he, too, took issue with Obama’s ‘‘revenge’’ comment.

‘‘We don’t believe in ­revenge; we believe in change and hope,’’ he said in Ohio. ‘‘We actually do.’’

Romney kicked off the final, frenetic weekend of the campaign by urging his supporters to vote in a swing state, which has four electoral votes that could prove critical in a close national race.

Signaling that the campaign is nearing an end, Romney paid tribute to the voters he has met around the nation.

“It’s not just the size of the crowds. It’s the conviction and compassion in the hearts of the people,” Romney said.

After the rally, Romney left for swing-state appearances in Dubuque, Iowa; Colorado Springs; and Englewood, Colo. Romney was scheduled to ­return to New Hampshire on Monday for an election eve speech in Manchester.

Romney was joined on his plane by nearly his entire top team, a close-knit ­coterie of senior advisers, many of whom have been with him since his days in the Massachusetts State House. Their mood was both upbeat and nostalgic.

Boarding the plane in New Hampshire to head to Iowa, they posed for a quick group picture on the tarmac, a photo that, depending on the outcome of Election Day, could be either a glimpse into a future White House, or a keepsake for old friends of a campaign that did not quite go their way.

Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at macquarrie­@
globe.com
. Material from The New York Times was used in this report.
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