By Carolyn Dube
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made a stop at Stanley Elevator in Merrimack on Tuesday morning after his plans to hike Mount Washington were washed out by rain.
Romney was scheduled to hike the northeast's highest peak with New Hampshire State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, and be available to speak with the media at the peak. However, the auto road, which the presidential candidate would have used to descend the mountain, was washed out in Tuesday's rain.
Instead, Romney, considered one of the frontrunners in the GOP Primary, held a meet and greet with employees of Stanley Elevator before giving a 10-minute speech and holding a 15-minute question and answer session.
During the meet and greet, Romney was introduced to 7-year-old Ian Sandhage, of Milford, the son of one of Stanley Elevator's employees, who had a question to ask the presidential candidate.
"Are you going to take President Obama's house from him?" Ian asked.
"I hope so," Romney replied, chuckling at the light moment.
Addressing the employees in the warehouse at the headquarters of the family-owned business, Romney talked with those gathered about the jobs, education and getting the economy back on track.
He laid out seven things he would begin work on immediately, if he were to step into office tomorrow, including making employer tax rates here competitive with others around the world and using this country's energy resources to create jobs and keep the dollars in the United States.
During a brief Q&A with the crowd of media at the event, Romney deflected questions about whether his 25 years in the business world are more valuable than Texas Gov. Rick Perry's 25 years in government, by saying that he "respects" Perry and thinks he's a "fine guy" and that they'll have plenty of time to hash that over in the many debates that are likely to occur leading up to the primary.
"Right now, I'd like to talk about my record, President Obama's record, why I think President Obama needs to be replaced, and why it is I think he's in such trouble that he's having to go on a bus tour to some of the swing states to try and convince some of the people to vote for him again."
Addressing a question about his relationship with the Tea Party and how he foresees earning their votes, Romney said he believes he and the Tea Party have some very similar values and ideas.
"I've had a chance to meet with Tea Partiers across the country and what I hear time and again is government's too big. We need to cut back on the scale of government. I agree with that," Romney said. "I think that message is encouraging, is positive and is leading the president to change his agenda. The Tea Party has helped change the agenda in Washington. That's a good thing."
Following the event, David Youngblood, of Atkinson, a supporter and financial contributor to Romney's campaign, said he feels the former governor stands apart from the pack because of his core values and his family values.
Youngblood noted Romney's business sense as being something that could help get the economy on track and get people back into jobs.
"I like that he's a black and white, straight-shooter kind of guy," Youngblood said.
Susan DiLiberto, of Tyngsborough, Mass., said she's looking for a president who can put people back into jobs, noting that her husband has been out of work for two years.
"Hopefully, if he gets to the White House, he will be able to do something to create jobs," DiLiberto said.
As a Massachusetts resident, DiLiberto said she voted for Romney for governor and in the last primary.
"I was very, very, very impressed by him," she said of Romney's appearance Tuesday morning. "He has a lot of very good ideas."