Door-knocking Romney reprises missionary days
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney could be excused for having flashbacks to the 1960s when he went door to door in Berlin, New Hampshire, on Thursday.
The former Massachusetts governor worked in France as a Mormon missionary from 1966 to 1968, one of the church’s thousands of earnest young men (mostly) who knock on doors and proselytize. At that point Romney had plenty of doors slammed in his face, but on Thursday, not so much.
“This is a lot easier,” Romney quipped to Reuters. “People speak English. They wish you Merry Christmas. They don’t think you’re a salesman. People used to come to the door [in France] and wag their fingers: ‘No, I don’t want anything.’”
Many French people at the time were “not happy to see Americans, because we were in Vietnam at the time. That was tough,” he added.
Romney strode around the depressed paper milling town in northern New Hampshire, talking to residents in their front doorways, to dog-walkers, and to people in passing cars who slowed down at the curious sight of Romney, handlers and trailing horde of media. At one point he broke into a run, leaving even his bodyguards behind.
Most residents seemed pleased, if sometimes startled, to see Romney appear at their front doors. “What on earth is he doing up here,” exclaimed Doris Dube, 82.
Many candidates campaign heavily in New Hampshire, which holds the first state primary of each presidential election cycle. But few make it to the remote North Country to court its relative handful of votes. Berlin, population about 10,000, is much closer to Canada than it is to Manchester, the state’s biggest city.
Speaking of flashbacks, the clean-cut Romney almost certainly was not doing drugs in the 60s, but did confess on Thursday that he was a little buzzed. “I’m high on sugar this morning,” he said at an event at the Elks Club in Littleton, after a breakfast on his bus of Frosted Flakes cereal, toast with honey and chocolate milk.
Photo: Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, walk to their campaign bus after a stop at “Simon the Tanner” in Lancaster, New Hampshire, December 22, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder