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Obama Tells N.H. Voters GOP Philosophy Is Wrong


Let's go now to the presidential campaign trail. On the day Supreme Court struck down portions of a controversial Arizona immigration law, President Obama and his rival Mitt Romney tangled over immigration policy. Still, at a political rally yesterday in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama mostly focused on other issues, like the economy. New Hampshire has just four electoral votes, but it's expected to be hotly contested in November.

NPR's Scott Horsley has this report from New Hampshire.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Fans of Mr. Obama stood for hours in a steady downpour waiting to catch a glimpse of the president. Some had umbrellas or makeshift tarps. Others just got soaked. Either way, Steve Cunningham of Nashua, New Hampshire said it was worth it.

STEVE CUNNINGHAM: We no longer have time for sunshine patriots. We have to stand up, be recognized, be counted. It's America, man.

HORSLEY: Four years ago, Mr. Obama won New Hampshire by nearly 10 points. But while the state's economy is doing better than most, with an unemployment rate of just 5 percent, it's considered a true toss-up this year. Dennett Page is an Obama supporter from Portsmouth.

DENNETT PAGE: Clearly, we can't take anything for granted - not only here in New Hampshire, but nationwide. So it's really, really important that everybody rolls up their sleeves. We may not get the momentum that we had in 2008 and the magic and the whirlwind campaign, but clearly, if everybody does their part and votes, we'll be in good shape.

CUNNINGHAM: Inside a steamy high school gym, Mr. Obama told supporters it's up to them to break the stalemate between two very different governing philosophies. He said the big tax cuts and deregulation championed by Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans are simply a retread of the approach George W. Bush took in the years before the economic downturn.


HORSLEY: Romney has proposed more tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, and more spending on the military. Mr. Obama says the only way he can do that without exploding the deficit is to cut government programs and tax deductions that benefit the middle-class.


HORSLEY: Mr. Obama also won applause for his efforts to make birth control more widely available, to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military and to give temporary legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.


HORSLEY: Mr. Obama didn't dwell on immigration in New Hampshire, where less than 3 percent of the population's Latino, but he did issue a statement praising the Supreme Court's decision to strike down most of an Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants. The president said a patchwork of state laws is not a solution, adding it's clear that Congress needs to act on more comprehensive reform. Romney, who's taken a tough line on illegal immigration, was in Arizona yesterday. He told campaign donors there he would have preferred the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states. Romney's spokesman, Rick Gorka, repeatedly ducked questions about the specifics of the Arizona law, while blaming Mr. Obama for what he said was a lack of leadership.

RICK GORKA: Arizona, like many other states in this nation, have taken upon themselves to craft policies for their own specific states. The governor has said repeatedly that states are a laboratory of democracy. What one state drafts may not work in others. But ultimately, this, again, goes back to the president's failure to deliver on his campaign promises.

HORSLEY: Back at the high school in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama told the crowd he expects a close contest in November.


HORSLEY: By the time the president finished speaking, the rain had stopped, and a little sunshine was peeking through the clouds. That gave David O'Donnell of Portsmouth one more reason to be impressed with Mr. Obama.

DAVID O'DONNELL: See what his voice does? It clears up the weather, too. It clears up the economy, creates jobs, helps education and straightens out the weather.

HORSLEY: Not every Granite Stater was so sanguine about the break in the rain, though. As Brian Bresnahan of Coos County warned, this is New Hampshire. Give it a minute. Scott Horsley, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.