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October 16. 2012 9:35PM

Skating legend Hamilton stumps for Romney in Nashua


Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, left, speaks to Mitt Romney supporters on Tuesday during a campaign stop at Nashua City Hall. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/Union Leader Correspondent)

NASHUA — An American ice skating icon signed autographs and shook hands with local residents on Tuesday while campaigning for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, previously a Barack Obama supporter, said yesterday that he is now backing Romney.

“There is really only one choice in this election,” Hamilton told a small crowd gathered outside of Nashua City Hall.

He described Romney as a good man who is talented, energetic, charming and funny. Kicking off the Olympic Bus Tour, Hamilton joined Sen. Kelly Ayotte for a rally outside the Romney/Ryan mobile headquarters.

Hamilton told Romney supporters that he was motivated to stump for the Republican candidate because of Romney’s efforts to save the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Faced with massive budget shortfalls, Romney quit his job, roll up his sleeves and turned around a troubling situation, Hamilton said. The event was about $379 million short of revenue projections when Romney was hired as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympics and Paralympics World Games of 2002.

“It was incredible because he lifted everybody up,” Hamilton said, adding that the former Massachusetts governor worked as a team builder to find money and turn around the Olympic games 10 year ago.

The 2002 Olympics became a phenomenal success under Romney’s guidance, and the country needs that same leadership to get the economy back on track and reduce U.S. debt, Hamilton said.

Hamilton was thrilled when Obama was elected, but he said he had concerns about Obama’s lack of experience. The 1984 gold medalist, cancer survivor and figure skating commentator described himself as an independent, but said he sees a “glimmer of hope” in Romney.

Ayotte said America needs someone with Romney’s skills to turn around the economy and get people working again.

With 50 percent of college graduates unemployed or unable to find jobs in their fields, Ayotte said that is an unacceptable situation that could be improved with Romney’s experience.

After his stop in Nashua, Hamilton was scheduled to visit Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, MacKenna’s Restaurant in New London and New England College in Henniker before participating in a debate watch party at Jillian’s in Manchester.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.


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