Together again, Romney and Ryan rail against Obama in New Hampshire

Holly Bailey
The Ticket

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made their first joint appearance in more than a week, accusing President Barack Obama of running an "angry" and "divisive" campaign while at the same time failing to turn the country's shaky economy around.

Appearing before a rally of roughly 3,000 people in the battleground state of New Hampshire, Romney repeated the tough language he first unveiled during an Ohio bus tour last week, telling voters Obama has been waging a campaign that has been "frankly not honest."

"It seems the first victim of the Obama campaign is the truth," Romney declared at a rally at St. Anselm's College in Manchester. The presumptive Republican nominee told the crowd of a phone call he received from Obama in late May, in which he said the two opponents had agreed to run a campaign based on issues. But that hasn't happened, Romney said, bluntly accusing Obama of lying about his record.

"It has been sad and disappointing," the GOP candidate said, pointing to what he said were false attacks on his proposed tax policy. "Mr. President, stop saying something that's not the truth."

It was the first time in eight days that Romney and Ryan shared a stage. Romney aides had originally planned to keep the two men on a separate campaign track until the Republican convention, which is set to begin next week in Tampa. But Romney aides dialed back on that plan, citing the huge crowds the GOP ticket attracted during their joint appearances after Ryan was named to the ticket. A Romney aide, who declined to be named, also cited Ryan's ability to talk up Romney's attributes in a way that the candidate hasn't been able to do himself.

With Romney at his side, Ryan played up the presumptive Republican nominee's private sector experience and his record as governor of Massachusetts, insisting he's the man who can create jobs and jump-start the economy.

"When you look at this man and his life ... it spells leadership," Ryan said.

Both men gave versions of their usual stump speeches and then took questions during what Romney touted was his 100th town hall since officially launching his Republican presidential bid 14 months ago.

In one line of attack that seemed to be new, Romney responded to a question about his policy toward Afghanistan by accusing the president of not "explaining what's happening" to the public and "parents" of those serving overseas.

"When our men and women are in harm's way, I expect the president of the United States to address the nation on a regular basis … and explain why we're there," Romney said.

Afghanistan has been a tricky subject for the GOP candidate because he agrees with Obama's plan to withdraw troops from the region—even though he's publicly criticized Obama for basing his decision on politics rather than on what generals on the ground had recommended.

Romney offered no further clarity on what exactly he would do differently in the region, but he said he would be more up front with the country than Obama has been.

"When I become commander in chief, I will address the American people about these issues, and I will do everything within my power to transition from our military to their military," Romney insisted.

Answering questions from the crowd, the GOP contenders seemed to enjoy an easy chemistry together on stage—perhaps drawing on days in March and early April, when the duo jointly headlined town halls in the run-up to the Wisconsin primary.

At one point, Romney responded to a question about what he would to do end the national debt with a longish answer, before realizing that Ryan, who has made this his signature issue in Congress, was waiting in the wings. He quickly offered his running mate the microphone, but Ryan demurred at first.

"I can't top that," he said of Romney's answer, before relenting and giving a response of his own.

Obama, Ryan said, has "ducked the tough issues" and "punted leadership."

"He's trying to win the election by default," Ryan insisted, urging voters not to let that happen.

From here, the two men are back to separate campaign tracks. Romney will kick off a fundraising swing through New Orleans and West Texas beginning Monday night, while Ryan is scheduled to campaign in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.