Manchester, N.H. -- While one 2012 campaign came to a close today in the South, another was in full swing in the North.
Hours before, Mitt Romney's team was full steam ahead in New Hampshire. Exercising the work horse discipline that they have come to be known by up here - despite their sizable lead in the state - the campaign called today "Earn it with Mitt" day, fanning out hundreds of volunteers across the state, in hopes of making 12,000 phone calls and knocking on 5,000 doors on Romney's behalf.
Before the group set out, Romney held a rally at Theo's Restaurant in downtown Manchester, which is owned by alderman Joe Kelly Levasseur. He was joined by campaign co-chair Tim Pawlenty and former N.H. Gov. John Sununu on stage, when he revved up the crowd. He began his remarks by addressing the fact that President Obama has announced he is going on a two and a half week vacation over the holidays.
"You know we heard some news yesterday the president indicated he's going to be going on vacation... When you consider all the golf, all the vacations, a new 17 day vacation I'm thinking of that old song back in the 1960s... remember that the one that was called 'My Boyfriend's Back.' And they said in there my boyfriend's back he's going to give you a permanent vacation. That's what we're going to give Barack Obama -- a permanent vacation."
Romney also hearkened back to his days of running the 2002 Olympics, when Sara Hughes won a gold medal in figure skating. Romney said that she thanked God and then told him that "She'd never been able to do it like that before and that's what we're going to have to do. To get these guys ripped out of the power they want so desperately to hold on to we're going to have to carry out the campaign performance of a lifetime. All of us, we're going to have work hard, we're going to get the job done you guys."
From the rally, Romney went on to door knock in a scenic Manchester neighborhood. In happy spirits as he breezed through crisp leaves in each lawn, he knocked on the doors of three houses before finally finding someone home at the fourth.
"That's the nature of knocking doors," he smiled to the press. He continued that "I did this very street in 2008. But when I think about knocking on doors I think about my experience in France for two and a half years. That was knocking on thousands and thousands of doors.... without much success."
Romney also spoke about what it was like to canvass for his father, George Romney, when he was campaigning for president in New Hampshire in 1968.
"It's awkward to come up to people you don't know and start talking to them. I think probably having learned that with my dad back when I was just a teenager has steeled me to the rigors of... what can be awkward for some folks, of having someone come up and start talking to them," he said. "But you get over that... I don't know any techniques, you just go up and say hello and hopefully strike it off. And by the way there are always a few folks who are not happy to see you and let you know that. Its all part of the experience."
One man, a Romney sign already on his lawn, excitedly greeted Romney at his door: "Hey there! Newt Gingrich just went out the back door." At another house, a family of four piled out of their front door to take a picture with Romney on their stoop -- next years Christmas card, quipped mom.
Romney left midday to meet his wife, Ann, in New York, to attend a forum hosted by Mike Huckabee. Before he left, he said, "We got 500 people that are knocking on doors today. I want them to know I am also knocking on doors. They're going to do it longer and hopefully successfully as well. This is a primary to be won by the person willing to put in the effort, and use the shoe leather to get the job done, and I intend to give them a close look."