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GOP Candidates Make Last-Minute Push in New Hampshire

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a rally at McKelvie Intermediate School in Bedford, N.H., on Monday.

Romney gave his GOP critics ammunition Monday morning when he used some unfortunate wording while telling a gathering of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce that he supports a policy that would enable individuals to more easily switch health insurance companies.

“I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them,” Romney said. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”

Romney’s opponents jumped on the clumsy phrasing and charged him with being more interested in firing people than creating jobs. Within a couple of hours, Romney held a rare news conference to clarify and repeat the full context of the comments and push back on the criticism he has received on his career at Bain Capital.

But the incident did not appear to dampen enthusiasm among his ardent supporters, at least not in its immediate aftermath, nor did they appear worried that Romney was in danger of losing the primary. Three retirees who attended a Romney event in Hudson on Monday afternoon expressed their support in the type of enthusiastic manner that could bode well for the frontrunner.

Mary Hoppe, of Nashua, said she likes Romney “very much” and said he has grown as a candidate since his disappointing loss to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 Granite State primary four years ago. That’s why she expects him to do well in today’s voting.

“I think [New Hampshire voters] know more about him, and I think that he’s more prepared for the job” of being president, she said.

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