(CORNWALL, Pa.) — Pennsylvania Republicans Marty and Ciri Daigle didn’t get the candidate they wanted out of this year’s GOP primary.
“I was a Newt fan,” Marty said. “And I was a Santorum fan,” his wife, Ciri, chimed in.
Nevertheless, Marty, a lumber company sales manager, and Ciri, who works at a Cornwall, Pa. nursing home, both spent Saturday evening in the company of Mitt Romney, a candidate that both Pennsylvanians said they would ultimately vote for in November.
“He’s not Obama,” Marty said in an interview with ABC News at a historic iron furnace in Republican-friendly Lebanon County.
Even though she voted for John McCain in 2008, Ciri said she hoped that “things would change for the better,” under President Obama, “but we didn’t see that.”
Her husband cited “reckless spending” and “government size” as the two biggest failures of the Obama administration.
And while interviews with voters in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire on the opening days of Romney’s five-day, six-state bus tour turned up many of the same concerns about President Obama that the Daigles expressed, the conversations also revealed a Republican electorate still warming up to their nominee.
“I’ll be honest, it’s not so much what I like about him, it’s what I dislike about Obama,” said Mike Hain, a supervisor at a cereal company in Pennsylvania where polls give the president a narrow edge over Romney.
“Maybe more of his personality will come out in this,” Hain said of the Republican nominee. “That’s what I’m hoping — that he shows that he’s more likeable.”
It was Hain’s first time seeing Romney in person just like it was for Russ Nagy, the owner of a home improvement business in Palmyra, Pa. who also turned out for Romney’s rally on Saturday.
“The economy sucks right now,” Nagy said, adding that he has already decided to cast his ballot for Romney in November.
“This fairness stuff — life’s not fair,” Nagy said, dismissing a key election-year message of the president’s. “Yeah, you help your neighbor, but you don’t baby him. Learn to stand on your own two feet.”
Outside the Stratham, New Hampshire farmhouse where Romney kicked off his bus tour one day earlier, Evan Stover, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, said he had already made up his mind.
“Obama doesn’t like our country — you can tell,” Stover told ABC News. “I think it’s how he grew up.”
Stover said he feared President Obama was “driving this country to a European socialistic model,” echoing a theme Romney often sounds on the campaign trail.
Recent polls in the Granite State show the president leading Romney, who owns a lakeside vacation home there and served as governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Mirror Lake resident Pee Ide predicted that the battle for New Hampshire would “get dirty.”
But she expressed almost no reservations about supporting Romney over Obama, who she described as an “empty suit.”
“He just kind of scares me –he really does,” Ide said of the president just a few minutes after Romney, in a speech, accused Obama of failing “to give the middle class of America a fair shot.”
“I think he’s so methodical and he just knows what he’s doing,” Ide said of Romney, but added one word of advice: “Sometimes I wish he would give him a little bit more hell.”
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