FRANKLIN, N.H. – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney lashed out at his top Democratic rivals Wednesday, saying their liberal views are out of step with the nation.
The former Massachusetts governor was particularly biting in his assessment of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.
"I don't think Hillary Clinton could get elected president of France with her platform. France is moving toward us," Romney told voters at a senior citizens center.
"I'm convinced that America is going to change course and the question is which way it is going to go: Are we going to take a sharp left turn represented by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and John Edwards, or are we going to march forth with the American values that have always helped us be the strongest nation on earth. And I believe we'll do the latter," Romney said.
Romney's criticism of his Democratic counterparts comes amid national polls that show the White House race is far more wide open on the Republican side than on the Democratic side. The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Romney.
In sharp contrast, the Democratic race remains static, with Clinton holding a sizable lead over Obama.
As for Romney, despite polls showing he trails McCain, Giuliani and Thompson nationally, he and his staff point to state surveys showing him leading in early voting Iowa and New Hampshire. One of Romney's pollsters, Alex Gage, sent the staff a memo last week pronouncing their candidate the front-runner for the nomination based on polling trends.
McCain is also pinning his hopes on New Hampshire, returning to the state Wednesday to drum up support for his troubled presidential bid.
At a town hall meeting in Manchester, McCain said the United States will face the threat of terrorism for the rest of this century, warning against perverted forms of Islam that inspire hatred and fear.
"They are recruiting individuals, even as we speak, to the cause of radical extremism, which is dedicated to the destruction of everything we believe in," the Arizona senator said.
McCain won the 2000 New Hampshire primary by 19 percent points over George W. Bush. But he trails Romney by 8 percentage points in a recent poll, and is tied with Giuliani in the state. His top staff has left, he's laid off scores of other staffers and his bank accounts are near empty.
Romney, who has a summer home in New Hampshire, claimed a certain degree of home-court advantage. He talked Wednesday about spending time boating on Lake Winnipesaukee and exploring the area with his children. He admitted that he hit a rock with his boat and damaged a propeller.
Romney started his day with a visit to a soda shop in Laconia.