Mitt Romney greets supporters in Manchester, N.H. (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- As votes continued to roll in for Mitt Romney after five Northeastern states weighed in on the Republican presidential campaign, Romney declared Tuesday “the start of a new campaign” in a victory speech focused exclusively on President Obama.
“The last few years have been the best that Obama can do, but it’s not the best America can do,” Romney told a crowd of supporters in Manchester, N.H. “Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years. And it’s the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.”
Romney had a big night, as expected. The Associated Press projected him the winner in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. He came into the night just shy of 700 delegates, and the states voting Tuesday won't give him enough delegates to reach the 1,144 he needs to clinch the Republican nomination.
Still, with Rick Santorum’s exit from the race and Newt Gingrich’s campaign no longer a factor, Romney has the nomination all but sewn up.
Pivoting to general election mode, Romney said he realized that many Americans had yet to tune into the race.
“This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country,” Romney said.
He pledged to reintroduce himself to voters.
“I want to hear what’s on your mind, hear about your concerns,” Romney said. “And I want to learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better, and what you expect from your next president.”
As he has done for months, Romney focused his speech on Obama, promising to lead the country out a “stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery.”
“Four years ago, Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change,” Romney said. “But after we came down to earth, after all the celebration and the parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?
“It’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid,” he said, invoking an old phrase – “It’s the economy, stupid” – used to discuss Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 challenge of President George H.W. Bush.