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Romney Makes Case For His Campaign's Strength

(CBS)
From CBS News' Scott Conroy:

HENNIKER, N.H. -- After shaking hands with skiers at Pat's Peak Ski Resort, Mitt Romney made the case that his campaign is the only one on the GOP side that views itself as viable in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

"I don't know though that there's any other candidate that's planning on competing in both races to a significant extent," Romney said at an outdoor press conference.

"The other candidates, I think, have said, 'Well, I can only compete in one state.' But you know to win the presidency in November '08, we've got to win in both states. You can't have a nominee who says, 'Oh, I'm writing off Iowa' or "I'm writing off New Hampshire.'"

Romney said that this morning he shot what he called his "closing argument" in advertisements that will air in Iowa and New Hampshire.

"They were all positive—forward looking," he said.

Romney criticized his chief GOP rival in New Hampshire, John McCain, over McCain's record on illegal immigration and taxation, asking aloud whether McCain stands by his previous positions.

"Under his bill that he fought for, everybody who came here illegally could stay forever, and does he still believe that, or does he not believe that?" Romney said. "And likewise on taxation — he says well know he's for making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Well, does he admit that he was wrong in voting against them before?"

Romney has been on the defensive over the past few days in New Hampshire as McCain has pulled to within a statistical tie for first place in a recent Boston Globe poll.

Two local newspapers — The Concord Monitor and New Hampshire Union-Leader — published scathing anti-Romney editorials. Both newspapers criticized Romney for lacking authenticity.

CBS News asked Governor Romney to name one position he holds that does not align with the majority of conservatives in the Republican Party.

"Well, my position on health care, for instance, has been aggressively opposed by people like the Cato Institute and The Wall Street Journal," Romney said. "I happen to think it's the ultimate conservative position related to health care, but I know there are a lot of Republicans that disagree."

Romney also listed his support of No Child Left Behind as another example of his views not necessarily aligning with Republican orthodoxy.

"I'm unapologetic," Romney said. "I'm in favor of No Child Left Behind."

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.