BOSTON (CBSDC/AP) — He insists he’s not running for president a third time, but Mitt Romney is campaigning again in New Hampshire.
The former Republican presidential nominee is set to endorse Senate candidate Scott Brown on Wednesday, campaigning publicly in New Hampshire for the first time since the early hours of Election Day 2012 as he continues a larger effort to re-emerge as a force in Republican politics.
The day is supposed to be focused on Brown’s quest to defeat Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this fall. But Romney’s return to the state where he began and ended his last presidential campaign looms over the Senate endorsement.
The afternoon rally is being held at Scamman’s Bittersweet Farm in Stratham, New Hamphsire, the same location where the former Massachusetts governor formally launched his last presidential campaign.
Democrats attacked Romney in a conference call on the eve of the visit, reminding people that he lost New Hampshire to President Barack Obama in the last general election, despite owning a summer home in the state’s Lakes Region.
“Scott, we have news for you,” state Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley said in a message aimed at Brown. “Mitt Romney has no credibility in New Hampshire. … We haven’t forgotten his ’47 percent’ comments.”
Buckley referred to comments Romney made in the last campaign that Obama had the support of the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes and who consider themselves “victims” and don’t “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” His campaign never fully recovered from the intense criticism his comments sparked.
Romney’s loss to Obama effectively pushed him into political exile. But he has been playing a growing role in national Republican affairs ahead of the November midterm elections.
So far this year, he has endorsed more than 30 candidates running for statewide office or for Congress in two dozen states, although he has appeared publicly in only a handful. Despite the re-emergence, Romney has repeatedly said he will not run for president again in 2016.
“I think there are an awful lot of people who would love to see him run again,” said longtime adviser Ron Kaufman. “Having said that, I think he has no intention to run.”
A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 45 percent of voters believe the U.S. would be better off with Romney as president. The poll also shows that 33 percent of voters believe that Obama is the worst president since 1945.
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