Payroll Tax Extension Counterproductive but not Harmful

Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.
Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.

Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.

On the Payroll Tax
While the Senate breaks for the Christmas holiday, the House of Representatives is taking a stand on the payroll tax, rejecting the bill days from the year-end deadline. If the bill doesn’t pass Congress by December 31, taxes will rise to 6.2% from 4.2% in the new year.

Regarding the current impasse, economics and business professor Amy Schmidt says:

"The national economy is still fragile. Letting the rate return to its pre-cut level is effectively a tax increase. Studies find that most people are spending the payroll tax cut—as opposed to tax cuts received by high-income individuals who tend to save more of a tax cut. But according to the CBO  the tax cut amounts to about $20 billion over the next year if it is extended over the next two months. If it was extended for the next year, multiply that by 6 (my ballpark, not the CBOs) and you have $120 billion. The federal budget is over $3 trillion and Gross Domestic Product is about $15 trillion. It is unlikely that not passing the extension will throw us into a recession, but it is counterproductive. Similarly unemployment benefits are spent. To the extent that the reason unemployed individuals are out of work is because they are unable to find a job and not because they aren’t willing to accept a job, a reduction in those benefits will also have a negative effect on the economy."

On Occupy Wall Street
Regarding the movement, Schmidt says:

"Income inequality is at a historic high. I believe there is reason for concern. Democrats and Republicans seem to be talking past each other. I do not know how well organized or effective the Occupy movement will be in the long run, but they have brought the topic into mainstream discussion and it is likely to be part of the Presidential campaign.

Republicans, in general, are most concerned about growth of GDP. The income distribution does not seem to be a big concern to them. They oppose taxing those at the high end of the distribution because they are the “job creators”—which I think is too broad a brush to paint them with. My personal view is that there is a tradeoff between efficient taxation (which reduces growth the least) and equity. The United States has generally chosen to err on the side of efficiency compared to all other industrialized nations.

Democrats are also concerned about growth, but are also concerned about the income distribution. They have favored raising taxes on those making over $250,000 (the top 2%) and spending more on stimulus measures that are aimed especially at unemployed construction workers. The Republicans are opposed to stimulus."

Professor Schmidt's research interests include education and labor markets. She teaches Principles of Micro and Macroeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Statistics, Labor Economics and Environmental Economics. She has been interviewed by The Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Radio, and WMUR.

To speak to Professor Schmidt, please call Barbara LeBlanc at (603) 641-7241 (office) or (603) 486-8760 (cell).

This post was submitted by Laura Lemire.

Students Tell Their Stories to the Wall Street Journal

Amanda Brahm

After her morning exam, English major Amanda Brahm sat down in the NHIOP and told a Wall Street Journal reporter about an experience she will never forget: standing in for presidential candidate Mitt Romney during rehearsals for the June 13 Republican primary debate on campus. She learned the candidate’s position and gave accurate answers to the moderator (a classmate standing in for CNN chief national correspondent John King). Meanwhile, technicians did sound and lighting checks in preparation for the live national broadcast.

Amanda Brahm

Amanda Brahm stands in for Governor Mitt Romney at the June 2011 presidential primary debate.

The reporter, Jennifer Levitz, wanted to know what it is like to be at Saint Anselm College during a presidential election cycle. These students had numerous up-close-and-personal experiences to relate.

“I have friends who go to college in Washington, D.C. and they’ve never had experiences like this,” said Lyndsay Robinson. “I’ve met every single candidate at least three times.”

Although she is a Romney supporter, Robinson will be assisting candidate Newt Gingrich during this afternoon’s Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Jon Huntsman.

Jake Wagner talked about being an intern in the Huntsman campaign. The passionate politics major and Huntsman supporter (with a minor in campaign management) has been a political addict since the age of eight, and is executive director of the Saint Anselm College Republicans.

Unlike Robinson and Wagner, Brahm is more interested in the election process than in a particular candidate.

As the students chatted with the Wall Street Journal reporter, MSNBC’s broadcast of political coverage played on the NHIOP’s wide screen TV in the background. For Saint Anselm students who want to get a closer look at politics in progress, the opportunities are unlimited.

This post was submitted by Laurie Morrissey.

New Hampshire Voters Taking a Second Look at Gingrich

Saint Anselm College professor Elizabeth Ossoff
Newt Gingrich at NHIOP at Saint Anselm College on November 21, 2011.

Newt Gingrich at New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College on November 21, 2011.

Regarding Newt Gingrich’s recent rise in the New Hampshire polls against long time frontrunner Mitt Romney, Professor Elizabeth Ossoff, director of the research center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, says:

“One could say that Gingrich is the anti-Romney ‘Candidate of the Month.’ But the combination of national news accounts showing Gingrich’s rise in the polls and the New Hampshire Union Leader’s recent endorsement, which anointed Gingrich as a ‘true conservative,’ may have New Hampshire voters taking a second look. Perhaps Gingrich appeals to their desire to not be pigeon-holed. New Hampshire voters do the unexpected at times. Sometimes we react against that which is expected of us. Maybe the expectation that New Hampshire would definitely go for Romney rubs some voters the wrong way, and has led them to reassess their choice now that the primary is closer at hand.”

Professor Ossoff’s research interests include the psychology of political behavior, from perspective of both the voter and the candidate. She is also interested in politics and the media, and the psychology of gender.

Saint Anselm College professor Elizabeth Ossoff

Elizabeth Ossoff, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology at Saint Anselm College.

Director of the research center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Professor Ossoff speaks to reporters frequently about public attitudes toward politics and candidates, gender and politics and other themes. She has been interviewed by CNN, New England Cable News, New Hampshire Pubilc Radio, the Associated Press, The New York Times and other news outlets.

To speak to Professor Ossoff, please call Barbara LeBlanc at (603) 641-7241 (office) or (603) 486-8760 (cell).

This post was submitted by Barbara Leblanc.

Governor Rick Perry Town Hall Meeting

Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry is the latest candidate to visit the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College in this increasingly busy campaign cycle. Appearing in front of an array of local, regional and national reporters, including NHIOP advisory board member and journalist Mark Halperin, Perry introduced Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio who endorsed the candidate earlier today. Saint Anselm remains a must-stop venue for candidates and the media in New Hampshire, and will host a nationally televised debate in early January preceding the first-in-the-nation primary.

Newt Gingrich Town Hall Meeting

Newt Gingrich signs a book for a Saint Anselm College student at NHIOP.

Newt Gingrich made a swing through New Hampshire Monday, stopping at the college’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics to present his alternative to Social Security. Speaking to an audience of more than 200 students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the general community, Gingrich said he would give young workers the option of investing their payroll taxes in private accounts, rather than in traditional Social Security. Gingrich, who has been topping the polls nationally, remains behind Mitt Romney in all but one New Hampshire poll, which has the two in a statistical dead heat. Gingrich took questions from the audience and then met privately with about 20 Saint Anselm students.

This post was submitted by Barbara Leblanc.

Journalist Balz Shares Primary Insights

Dan Balz (photo by Bill O'Leary/TWP)

“This is one of the strangest primary years we’ve ever seen,” said Washington Post journalist Dan Balz at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) Friday morning. “Almost nothing we predicted is playing out the way we might have expected.” He addressed an audience at the Politics and Eggs series attended by business people and members of the faculty and student body, and even a Parliamentarian from Belgium.

Washington Post reporter Dan Balz (photo by Bill O'Leary /TWP)

Washington Post reporter Dan Balz (photo by Bill O'Leary /TWP)

Balz, the co-author of The Battle for America 2008, discussed the ups and downs of various contenders for the Republican primary nomination and the American people’s current disenchantment with President Barack Obama.

This primary process started out much more slowly than in previous years, he observed. “We have had the most fluid Republican lineup any of us can remember. There was almost as much attention to people who decided not to run as to people who decided to run. In almost every case, there was a great deal of discussion and commentary about them that created another story, which was, ‘What’s wrong with this field?’”

He also stressed the importance of this election cycle’s primary debates, saying that “virtually every debate has been consequential and has had significant impact on people’s impressions of candidates.” Saint Anselm College hosted one debate in June and will be the setting of another Jan. 7, just before the first-in-the-nation primary.

This is in many ways a high stakes election and a crucial election, Balz noted, as it plays out against the backdrop of a terrible economy and dissatisfaction with the way things are done in Washington.

He pointed out that a lot of Republicans are still reluctant to embrace Mitt Romney, who has a strong organization in New Hampshire. A poll released last month by the NHIOP and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University put Romney 18 points ahead of his closest rival in New Hampshire, Herman Cain, at 38 percent to 20 percent. The institutes will issue a second poll shortly before the Jan. 10 primary.

“I don’t know yet how much affection there will be for Mitt Romney,” Balz said, “but the party doesn’t have to love its nominee. It has to believe they are capable of winning in the general election and rally around that. The passion issue is going to be created on the Republican side by President Obama.”

He said that even unlikely candidates are valuable to the process by creating discussion around certain issues. “Things always change when the voters begin to vote. Let’s remember that come January, something is going to happen that we don’t expect.”

Asked by a listener how social media is affecting this campaign, he said, “with Twitter and the rolling, running news cycle, journalists run the risk of getting out ahead of where the story really is.”

Saint Anselm, ABC, WMUR to Host Primary Debate

ABC2012

Every four years, Saint Anselm has a tradition of extending our Benedictine hospitality to presidential primary candidates, the news media, and the general public for nationally televised debates.

Saint Anselm College will once again play this important role by hosting a Republican debate with ABC and WMUR, to be held the Saturday evening prior to the New Hampshire primary. The debate will air nationally from 9 to 11 p.m.

ABC hosted the final Granite State presidential debates at Saint Anselm in 2008 (see photos) – an event that brought Republican and Democratic candidates on stage together for the first time, only days before the first-in-the-nation votes were cast.

From ABC News:

  • ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos to Moderate Debate from Saint Anselm College with WMUR Anchor Josh McElveen
  • Debate to Air in Primetime at 9:00 PM/ET on the ABC Television Network
  • Excerpted Debate to Re-Air the Following Morning on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour”

ABC News and WMUR-TV, ABC’s Hearst-owned affiliate in Manchester, NH, are joining forces once again to host a Republican presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire just days before the Granite State’s first in the nation primary — a critical moment in the Republican nomination process. It will be the only broadcast network debate in primetime before the primary and will take place on the Saturday night preceding the primary from 9:00-11:00pm/ET. The debate will air live nationally on the ABC Television Network and locally on WMUR-TV and will be moderated by ABC’s Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos; they will be joined by WMUR-TV anchor Josh McElveen.

The debate will stream live on ABCNEWS.com, Yahoo!, and WMUR.com. ABC News Radio, the nation’s largest commercial radio news organization, will carry it live on its stations. ABC News will re-air an excerpted version of the debate the following Sunday morning on “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

The candidates will be asked about the critical issues the country faces in front of a live audience at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. Eligibility criteria for a candidate’s participation will be posted on ABCNews.com later this week.

ABC News and WMUR-TV co-hosted back-to-back Democratic and Republican presidential debates in 2008 at the same critical point in the 2008 primary season and have enjoyed a long partnership covering “First in the Nation” politics in New Hampshire. In 2008, more than 9 million viewers across the country tuned in to watch the Democratic debate and 7.35 million for the Republican debate. The debates were also among the highest-rated programs in WMUR-TV history.

When the debate was announced in December, ABC News President Ben Sherwood said, “The days between Iowa and New Hampshire have often been make-or-break for candidates, and we look forward to putting the crucial questions of the day to the contenders for the Republican nomination. We are confident that voters in New Hampshire, and across the country, will be able to make even better decisions after watching this debate.”

“WMUR is proud of our history of partnering with ABC for presidential debates” said Jeff Bartlett, WMUR-TV President and General Manager. “We are looking forward to producing another informative debate just days before the First in the Nation Primary and again providing New Hampshire voters with a critical look at the field of candidates,” Bartlett continued.

About WMUR-TV & Hearst Television

WMUR-TV is the leading source of television news in New Hampshire, reaching more than one million people, and is the largest commercial television station in the state. WMUR.com is the most viewed New Hampshire web site for local news. An ABC affiliate, WMUR is owned by Hearst Television, Inc.

Hearst Television Inc. owns 29 television stations and two radio stations, in geographically diverse U.S. markets. The Company’s television stations reach approximately 18% of U.S. TV households, making it one of the largest U.S. television station groups. Hearst owns 13 ABC affiliated stations, and is the largest ABC affiliate group. The Company owns 10 NBC affiliates, and is the second-largest NBC affiliate owner, and also owns two CBS affiliates.

About ABC News

ABC News is responsible for all of the ABC Television Network’s news programming on a variety of platforms: television, radio and the Internet. Its flagship program is “World News with Diane Sawyer” with other programs including “Good Morning America,” “Nightline,” “Primetime,” “20/20,” and the Sunday morning political affairs program “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” With an average television and radio audience of 180 million people in a given month, ABC News surpasses the competition. More than 2,400 affiliate stations broadcast ABC News Radio’s global news coverage. In addition, ABC News NOW is a 24-hour news and information network currently available to 44 million users across cable, broadband, and mobile platforms. NewsOne, the affiliate news service of ABC News, provides live and packaged news, sports, and weather reports, as well as footage of news events, to 200 ABC affiliates and more than 30 domestic and international clients.

 

NHIOP Collaborates With Harvard University, Releases Primary Poll

Republican candidates meet at Saint Anselm College

A new poll by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leading the candidate field with 38 percent among likely voters in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. Businessman Herman Cain (20%) and U.S. Representative Ron Paul (13%) follow, with all remaining candidates polling at 5 percent or less.

The candidate ballot test appears far from settled; only 10 percent say that they are “definitely” voting for Mitt Romney, 6 percent say the same about Herman Cain — and only 14 percent report they are “very satisfied” with the field of candidates.

Republican candidates meet at Saint Anselm CollegeHowever, likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters appear confident of a Romney win over President Obama, with 72 percent saying Romney would win in a general election match-up with Obama and 20 percent saying the President would win.

"We at the Institutes of Politics at Harvard and Saint Anselm have really enjoyed working together with our students on tracking public opinion leading up to the New Hampshire primary,” said Trey Grayson, Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics and Neil Levesque, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “On the heels of our insightful focus groups with New Hampshire Millennials two weeks ago, our unique collaboration is now providing new, timely data to the media and public on New Hampshire voter perceptions of the 2012 presidential candidate field and key issues of concern in the Granite State.”

"The real significant finding in this data is not so much who the frontrunner is at this point – Governor Romney has been the front runner in this field for a while – but who is NOT in the top tier,” said Patrick Griffin, Senior Fellow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “With Herman Cain showing surprising strength as the ‘Romney Alternative’ and a compressed primary schedule, Governor Perry may be running out of time in New Hampshire. There is a lot more riding on this Tuesday's debate for Romney, Cain and Perry (in that order) today then there was yesterday."

One-in-five (20%) likely Republican primary voters say they have met at least one of the candidates running for President in person (Romney has met the most voters by a margin of more than 3:1).

The poll's 648 telephone interviews (landline and cell phone lines) with likely voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary for President were conducted between Sunday, Oct. 2 and Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

Key Findings

1. Mitt Romney currently leads the field by 18 points; Herman Cain and Ron Paul follow – remaining candidates polling at 5 percent or less.

If the Republican primary for President were held today, which ONE of the following candidates would you most likely vote for? Would you say you are going to definitely vote for [INSERT CHOICE] or probably vote for [INSERT CHOICE]?

Net Vote Totals (Definitely / Probably / Unsure of Support Levels):

  • Mitt Romney…………………………………………………………. 38%
  • Herman Cain………………………………………………………… 20%
  • Ron Paul ……………………………………………………………… 13%
  • Newt Gingrich ………………………………………………………. 5%
  • Jon Huntsman………………………………………………………. 4%
  • Rick Perry ……………………………………………………………. 4%
  • Michelle Bachmann……………………………………………….. 3%
  • Gary Johnson……………………………………………………….. 1%
  • Rick Santorum ……………………………………………………… 1%
  • Don't know …………………………………………………………… 11%

2. The race is far from settled; only 10 percent say that they are "definitely" voting for Mitt Romney, 6 percent say the same about Herman Cain — 14 percent "very satisfied" with the field of candidates.

To gauge current commitment levels of likely New Hampshire Republican voters, we asked a two-part ballot test question that probed whether or not voters would "definitely vote" or "probably vote" for the candidates they mentioned. The total vote by candidate and the "definitely" vote totals follow:

Net Vote Total with "Definitely Voting":

  • Mitt Romney…………………………………………………………. 38%
    (10% "definitely voting")
  • Herman Cain………………………………………………………… 20%
    (6% "definitely voting")
  • Ron Paul ……………………………………………………………… 13%
    (4% "definitely voting")
  • Newt Gingrich ………………………………………………………. 5%
    (1% "definitely voting")
  • Jon Huntsman………………………………………………………. 4%
    (2% "definitely voting")
  • Rick Perry ……………………………………………………………. 4%
    (1% "definitely voting")
  • Michelle Bachmann……………………………………………….. 3%
    (<1% "definitely voting")
  • Gary Johnson……………………………………………………….. 1%
    (<1% "definitely voting")
  • Rick Santorum ……………………………………………………… 1%
    (<1% "definitely voting")

Additionally, we asked how satisfied voters were with the current group of candidates: 14 percent indicated that they were very satisfied, 51 percent somewhat satisfied, 23 percent not very satisfied and 11 percent not at all satisfied.

3. Slightly less than half (46%) of primary voters support the Tea Party; ballot test a "toss-up" between Cain and Romney among this segment of the electorate.

Net Vote Totals (Tea Party Supporters Only, n=292, MoE ± 5.7 percentage points):

  • Herman Cain………………………………………………………… 30%
  • Mitt Romney…………………………………………………………. 29%
  • Ron Paul ……………………………………………………………… 10%
  • Newt Gingrich ………………………………………………………. 6%
  • Rick Perry ……………………………………………………………. 5%
  • Michelle Bachmann……………………………………………….. 5%
  • Jon Huntsman………………………………………………………. 1%
  • Gary Johnson……………………………………………………….. 1%
  • Rick Santorum ……………………………………………………… 1%
  • Don't know …………………………………………………………… 7%

4. Sixty-two percent believe ideological fit is more important than "defeating Obama" when deciding whom to support in primary.

Which of the following do you believe is more important when choosing a candidate in the Republican primary:

  • The candidate that best matches your ideology and beliefs 62%
  • The candidate that has the best chance of defeating Obama 29%
  • Neither/Both equally………………………………………………. 7%
  • Don't know/Decline to answer…………………………………. 2%

5. Economy dominates landscape.

Similar to other polls, the economy is the dominant issue in this campaign. More than a third (34%) reported that the economy in general was the number one factor in deciding whom to support (based on open-ended question); another 16 percent said that jobs and unemployment was the most important issue; issues related to the size and scope of government were third (13%).

6. Romney leads Paul, Perry and Huntsman significantly in all of the issues- and characterbased attributes we tested; "Cares about people like me" is a potential vulnerability.

We asked New Hampshire Republican voters which of four candidates (Romney, Paul, Perry and Huntsman) they believed would be the best fit along a series of issues- and character based attributes. Due to time constraints, all candidates were not included in this section of the survey – we regret that Herman Cain was not included. His national and local momentum largely began after this survey instrument was completed.

The question asked was: "Regardless of which Republican presidential candidate you may support, for each of the following characteristics or qualities, please tell me if you think it best describes Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, or Mitt Romney." In every instance Mitt Romney bested his competitors, with Ron Paul second on all but one item:

  • Will defeat Obama. [Romney +50]
  • Will create jobs. [Romney +45]
  • Will get things done in Washington. [Romney +32]
  • Will keep us safe from terrorists. [Romney +21]
  • Will deal with the national debt. [Romney +20]
  • Will deal with Social Security. [Romney +16]
  • Will deal with immigration. [Romney +11]
  • Cares about people like me. [Romney +9]

7. Romney is well-known and well-liked in New Hampshire.

Name identification ratings and net favorability ratings:

  • Mitt Romney: 96 percent name recognition; 75 percent favorable, 21 percent unfavorable; 3.6:1 ratio.
  • Ron Paul: 93 percent of name recognition; 57 percent favorable, 36 percent unfavorable; 1.6:1 ratio.
  • Michele Bachmann: 90 percent of name recognition; 44 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable; 0.96:1 ratio.
  • Rick Perry: 84 percent of name recognition; 43 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable; 1.0:1 ratio.
  • Jon Huntsman: 54 percent of name recognition; 29 percent favorable, 25 percent unfavorable; 1.2:1 ratio.
  • Chris Christie: 70 percent of name recognition; 51 percent favorable, 19 percent unfavorable; 2.7:1 ratio.
  • Sarah Palin: 98 percent of name recognition; 49 percent favorable, 49 percent unfavorable; 1:1 ratio.

8. New Hampshire ambivalent about Romney's tenure as Massachusetts Governor.

While much has been written about Mitt Romney's term as Governor of Massachusetts, a plurality (43%) of likely Republican voters believe that the fact he was Governor makes no difference in his candidacy for the Republican nomination. Twenty-nine percent (29%) believe that his governorship of neighboring Massachusetts helps him; 26 percent say it hurts him.

9. New Hampshire Republicans confident of a Romney win over Obama; less confident of a Perry win – believe Christie would have been successful.

When likely Republican voters were asked to predict how various Republican nominees would fare in a general election match-up with Barack Obama, Romney was the strongest candidate by far (we compared Romney with three other governors, including Chris Christie).

  • Obama vs. Romney: 72 percent believe Romney would win, 20 percent Obama
  • Obama vs. Christie: 52 percent believe Christie would win, 31 percent Obama
  • Obama vs. Perry: 47 percent believe Perry would win, 43 percent Obama
  • Obama vs. Huntsman: 25 percent believe Huntsman would win, 56 percent Obama

10. One-in-five likely Republican voters have met at least one of the candidates.

Over the 24-hour period before our interview, 36 percent of likely Republican voters tell us that they discussed the primary campaign in person or over the phone; 16 percent did the same online – and since the campaign started 20 percent have met one of the candidates running for President in person (Romney has met the most voters by margin of more than 3:1).

Romney Holds Town Hall at NHIOP

Romney

Former Gov. Mitt Romney took questions from an audience of about 225 people, during a town hall-style meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Romney kicked off the event noting he was happy to be back at Saint Anselm College, following his most recent visit during the June 2011 GOP debate.

More than a dozen media outlets – ranging from local newspapers, to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Manchester joined Boston TV stations, and Carl Cameron of Fox News on the press risers to cover the event. Following the town hall, reporters met with Romney outside the NHIOP, asking him questions about rival Rick Perry, the likelihood that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would run and fundraising.

Here’s a sample of the coverage:

WCVB-TV (Boston): Romney campaigns in New Hampshire

Mitt Romney returned Wednesday to politically safe territory, but he faces continuing questions about his appeal to Republicans in the rest of the country. Romney, who is holding a town hall in Goffstown at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, is returning fire by attacking Perry's most vulnerable spot — his position on immigration, which many conservative Republicans find too weak.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution: Romney brushes off flip-flopper critics

The Republican presidential contender won't pretend he's never changed his mind on every issue he's ever considered. He says that during his business career he learned that people have to change when facts change. If they don't, they get fired for being stubborn and stupid. Romney's comments came in response to a question during a town hall meeting Tuesday at Saint Anselm College. He also attacked top Obama strategist, David Axelrod.

CNN: Romney on Christie: “It’d be fun if he got in”

Mitt Romney said Wednesday he would welcome New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie into the presidential race, calling him "a great friend, colorful character." Outside the town hall at Saint Anselm College Wednesday, a reporter asked Romney if he was insulted by the persistent enthusiasm for a Christie candidacy.

"He's a governor I'd love to see in more political settings," Romney said. "Who knows–maybe he'll get in. It'd be fun if he got in."

Esquire: On the Trail: Mitt Romney likes the sound of his own laugh

And so he sails serenely on, all the flavor-of-the-week turmoil surrounding the rest of the Republican ticket barely a ripple beneath his well-tailored keel. Four years ago, Mitt Romney was a profound public maladroit. The more people were exposed to him, the more they wanted to hit him in the face with a pie. Now, though, with the Bachmann boom surrendering to the Perry Boom, which collapsed because Rick Perry proved to be more of a maladroit than Mitt Romney ever dreamed of being, and with the thunderous hoofbeats of a Christie boom just now rising (maybe), Romney has begun to look like the safest vessel among the various ships of fools. All this nautical stuff is at high tide because today, at a town-hall meeting at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm's College, Mitt decided to seize upon what Obama advisor David Axelrod had said here recently when Axelrod described the upcoming campaign as "a titanic struggle."

Campaign Strategist and Presidential Advisor David Alexrod Speaks at NHIOP

David Alexrod

President Barack Obama's top advisor, David Axelrod, visited the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Tuesday, appearing at a public breakfast event, talking with the media, and meeting with students to have an open dialogue about the state of politics.

The president’s advisor and spokesman addressed a large local audience at the “Politics and Eggs” series in the NHIOP auditorium. His talk centered on the country’s economic challenges and the political process, noting that the people of New Hampshire have a unique opportunity to meet and evaluate the presidential candidates’ ideas, character, and record.

“It begins here. New Hampshire citizens will put them through their paces,” he said. He also praised the college and the NHIOP for the part it plays in instilling the values of civic responsibility in its students: “I look forward to the leadership the young people here will provide in years to come.”

Student Q & A

Reporting by Barbara LeBlanc

David AlexrodStudents spent 45 minutes picking the brain of Democratic political strategist David Axelrod at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Axelrod, a former senior aide and current campaign advisor to President Obama, answered questions about the Tea Party, the differences between Democrats and Republicans, election strategy and what drew him to Obama.

He also urged the audience of about 35 students to get involved in political and civic life, no matter what issues they care about most. “You can’t be passive players,” he said. “You have the ability to influence the future of your country. The future is not going to present itself to you, you have to achieve it.”

Axelrod’s own interest in politics started when he was just five years old. “You can fill in the appropriate nerd joke,” he said. Then Sen. John F. Kennedy was visiting New York City, where Axelrod grew up, and a neighbor took the young boy to see him. “I still retain the sense of excitement and idealism about this system that I had when I was five years old sitting on a mailbox,” waiting for JFK to pass by, he said.

He said he first met the president in 1992 when someone Axelrod knew predicted that Barack Obama could become the first black president. Ten years later, he led the campaign that won Obama his U.S. Senate seat and later the Oval office.

In the Media

C-SPAN: Obama Aide at 'Politics & Eggs'

WMUR-TV: President's Chief Campaign Strategist Speaks In NH

The Boston Globe: Obama aide recognizes hurdles to president’s reelection

With a still-foundering economy and Americans increasingly fed up with the government, President Obama’s top campaign strategist today acknowledged the difficulties the incumbent president will face.

“We don’t have the wind at our backs this election,” said David Axelrod, speaking to around 200 people at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. “We have the wind in our face because the American people have the wind in their faces. This is going to be a titanic struggle.”

Los Angeles Times: David Axelrod: Obama faces “titanic struggle” to win reelection

President Obama faces a “titanic struggle” to win reelection, his top campaign strategist, David Axelrod, said Tuesday, given high unemployment and the poisonous partisan atmosphere in Washington.

Speaking at forum at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Axelrod had harsh words for Republicans, who, he said, had blocked the president from achieving major policy goals.

The Telegraph (London): Did David Axelrod really compare the 2012 Obama campaign to the Titanic?

Talking at a Politics and Eggs breakfast in New Hampshire (a quaint little event where attendees are given a wooden egg and clamour to have it signed by the speaker), David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama campaign, used the word "titanic" when talking about the task facing his boss next year.