Mitt Romney strikes patriotic tone at New Hampshire parade

WOLFEBORO, N.H. – After nearly two hours of wending his way through largely cheering throngs here, former governor Mitt Romney offered little political firebranding in a brief speech, telling a crowd that July 4th was a time for unity.

“We have differing views on political issues but with regards to our conviction that this nation is unique and exceptional we must come together and show respect for what it is that makes us such a great nation,” he said, against a stunning backdrop of Lake Winnipesaukee.

His remarks struck Bud Martin, a Democrat from the nearby town of Sandwich, as appropriate.

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“I didn’t think it was a time for partisanship,” Martin said.

His wife, Margaret Demos, disagreed.

“I would have liked to hear what he had to say on a number of issues,” she said, such as education and women’s rights.

Marching in the parade with him was Kelly Ayotte, a senator from New Hampshire who has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential choice. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, another mentioned candidate, was not with Romney. He will be in New Hampshire on Saturday to attend a fund-raiser, said Tommy Schultz, a Romney spokesman.

For some, Romney’s presence in the parade – for the first time as a presidential nominee—made for a overtly political event.

“It’s nice to have more of a mix,” said Melissa Hanson, a Romney supporter.

Her friend, Mitch Ganem, a Democrat, countered, “It was gross. It was a Romney parade.”

Romney reveled in the parade crowd’s welcome.

“I realize that a number of people were thinking of voting for someone else besides me – a few of them, I might add,” he said. “But you know, they were respectful and courteous and said ‘good luck to ya’ and said ‘Happy Fourth of July.’”