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Final Romney rally rocks Manchester arena
Mitt and Ann Romney take the stage for a rally at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester Monday night. (MARK BOLTON/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — Mitt Romney wrapped up a four-state final push with a late-night stop Monday at Verizon Wireless Arena.
The Republican presidential nominee was introduced by musician Kid Rock, who entertained a packed house with a brief set and ended with his song “Born Free,” which has been adopted as the Romney campaign's anthem.
“This is where the campaign began. You got this campaign started a year and a half ago,” Romney said. “Tomorrow your votes and your work here in New Hampshire will help me become the next President of the United States.”
Romney had already made stops Monday in Florida, Virginia and Ohio before returning to New Hampshire, the state where he announced his candidacy in June 2011 and owns a vacation home on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro.
Romney didn't take the stage until after 11 p.m., and delivered a speech that was interrupted several times by cheers.
“With the right leadership, America is going to come roaring back,” Romney said. “President Obama promised change but couldn't deliver it. I not only promise change, but I have a record of achieving it.”
The arena seats more than 10,000 for hockey games and was packed well beyond that, with hundreds of people on the floor. They cheered and clapped “thunder sticks” throughout Romney's speech.
“I'm not just going to take office on January 20th. I'm going to take responsibility for that office,” he said. “I won't just represent one party. I'll represent one nation.”
Hours earlier, crowds of people circled the downtown arena waiting to get in the arena doors, clear security and find a seat for the free event. Fans braved temperatures in the 30s while waiting for the Republican nominee to arrive.
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas and GOP gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne revved up the crowd, as did Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass, followed by Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
After the politicians spoke, Kid Rock took the stage on the opposite side of the arena.
“I'm not going to be up here preaching politics tonight. I'm going to leave that up to the pros,” Rock said.
Rock went on to say how he had been privileged and blessed to play in front of U.S. military troops.
“That being said, I think you will know who I will be voting for in the morning,” he said, drawing a loud roar as his band began to play.
Romney has been a frequent visitor to the Granite State, as has his opponent. On Sunday, President Obama and former president Bill Clinton drew a crowd of 14,000 outside the state Capitol.
There was no mistaking that it was a Republican Party rally, but there were some pro-Obama voices outside. Bob King, national president of the United Auto Workers, was in New Hampshire on Monday to rally union voters toward Obama. King has been critical of Romney's statements about the auto industry bailout.
King said he wasn't bothered that Kid Rock, a Michigan native, was supporting Romney.
“That's the great thing about America. We're all entitled to our opinion,” King said.
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