Mitt Romney is a regular marcher in the Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, Fourth of July parade, a slice of Americana featuring lawn chair dancers, Elvis impersonators and a giant beer stein float.
The Romneys have owned a home in Wolfeboro, a town that calls itself “the oldest summer resort in America,” for about 15 years and have a tradition of gathering their five sons and grandchildren here. Romney said he had 30 relatives in town today.
This, however, isn’t a regular year.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee was joined on the parade route not just by family, but also by Secret Service agents and an entourage of supporters in blue T-shirts. His handshakes and “Good to see you, guys,” neighborly greetings were captured by national reporters and photographers and often followed by: “Don’t forget to vote in November.”
After the 90-minute parade down Main Street, past a handful of President Barack Obama fans near Friend Street, beyond full-throated supporters of his own — chanting “Mitt, Mitt” — outside the First Christian Church of Wolfeboro, Romney gave a brief Independence Day speech with Lake Winnipesaukee as a backdrop.
“I love this country. I love the people who built this country,” he said. “I hope we recognize that it is a unique country. What makes it exceptional is our people and our passion for freedom.”
President Barack Obama, who has been a regular at the White House for four Fourths of July, offered his own celebration of Independence Day with a naturalization ceremony for active-duty members of the military in the East Room today.
“With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth: Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.,” Obama told his audience. “We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.
“The story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of “them,” it’s a story of “us,”’ Obama said. “It’s who we are. And now, all of you get to write the next chapter.”
Explaining his own campaign theme, “Believe in America,” Ronney said in New Hampshire, “We don’t want to change America into something it’s not. We don’t want to make America more like Europe or more like any other place. We want to make America more like America.”
The parade and remarks, as well as a CBS News interview taped this morning and set to air tonight, were a break from Romney’s weeklong vacation in Wolfeboro.
In a clip of the interview, Romney calls the mandate that mostAmericans have health insurance “a tax” — at odds with what his campaign has said.
Senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said July 2 that Romney believes the mandate is a “penalty,” not a tax.
The Supreme Court upheld it as a tax, within the power of Congress.
All part of the making of America.
Mark Silva contributed to this report from Washington, Julie Bykowicz in Wolfeboro.