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New Hampshire Elections

January 8, 2012

Definitions of conservatism vary among GOP candidates

Mitt Romney defended his conservative credentials last week in an interview in Salem.

Throughout the campaign, Republican critics have questioned how truly conservative Romney is.

Tuesday night, it won't matter, because Romney, by all expectations, will be high atop the Republican primary field in New Hampshire and likely on his way to the GOP nomination to oppose President Barack Obama in November.

Romney is well aware of the "true conservative" talk that hovers around Republican primaries in general and this one in particular. He's had to listen to the skeptical questions about his commitment to conservative principles for two primary cycles in New Hampshire.

"Here, it's easier for me to counter than, let's say, some place I'm not terribly well known," Romney said. "People in New Hampshire watched me as governor in a state where the Legislature was 85 percent Democrat."

There's a certain degree of difficulty governing Massachusetts with those kinds of numbers, more than for a governor in a solidly Republican state, was Romney's point.

"They saw I came to office in Massachusetts facing a $3 billion budget gap. I balanced the budget every year, cut taxes 19 times, empowered our state police to enforce immigration laws and instituted English immersion in our schools," Romney said.

Besides all that, Romney said he was known as a pro-life governor and a national leader in standing up for traditional marriage.

"So they see a record that is a solid conservative record," Romney said, though he concedes they may have an issue or two with which they disagree with him.

His critics, Romney said, can't fool the people of New Hampshire.

"My record speaks loudly for people who are close to having seen me in office," Romney said.

Definitions of 'conservative' vary

Travis Blais is the chairman of the Republican Town Committee in Windham.

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