MANCHESTER, N.H. — The two men were both leaders in liberal bastions. They both once held positions heretical to Republican Party orthodoxy. And they are both campaigning in large measure on their competency and ability to change Washington.
Now Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney are engaging each other as never before in the towns and villages of New Hampshire, from Derry to Nashua. It is a state where Mr. Romney’s regional appeal, bolstered by heavy advertising, helped him to early leads in the polls but is now being threatened by the autograph-seeking crowds that greet every appearance by Mr. Giuliani.
And as Mr. Giuliani has started focusing more on Mr. Romney’s backyard, Mr. Romney on Thursday leveled some of his sharpest criticism to date on Mr. Giuliani’s record as New York mayor, accusing him of the cardinal sins of supporting taxes and opposing tools to limit spending.
With the candidates practically tripping over each other this week in their appearances on consecutive days, even working patrons at the same diner in Derry, the campaigning has shown the stark contrasts between the styles of these two men as they head into the final three months of campaigning before the New Hampshire primary.
“The mayor is a New Yorker; you can see that,” said Bill Andreoli Sr., 60, owner of Mary Ann’s, a ’50s-style diner in Derry that both men visited. “Romney is kind of polished, and the mayor is a little more outgoing when it comes to speaking off the cuff.”
Where Mr. Romney, even as the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, still has to introduce himself to voters here, his rival has basked in the fame gained by his response to the attacks of Sept. 11 for so long that he has even perfected a technique for signing baseballs (jamming the ball against his knee to steady it while writing with a ballpoint pen in his free hand).
Mr. Giuliani is blunt and lecturing; Mr. Romney is precise and practiced. Mr. Romney speaks in full sentences, with clauses that flow into full paragraphs and build to calculated crescendos. Mr. Giuliani’s words often tumble out, stream-of-conscious style, meandering with little of the rah-rah, inspirational moments typical of political oratory.
“That’s my appeal,” Mr. Giuliani said to reporters on Wednesday in Salem. “I am me. I will be straight with people. I think the most important thing we’re facing is the challenge of terrorism.”
The next day at a forum here, Mr. Romney told his audience: “Now, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t pretend to be the answer man. But I do know how to get all the answers.”
He highlighted his private sector résumé and spoke about what could be accomplished by “bringing in great people, doing sound analysis, thorough analysis, gathering data, setting a strategy and following a course that is benchmarked to see if we are progressing or not.” He added, “We need that in America.”
The campaigns are starkly different, too. When Mr. Romney met with the news media after his first stop on Thursday, aides had laid tape on the ground to mark where the candidate would stand and where the media should gather. Mr. Giuliani’s media meeting a day earlier had the organization of a rugby scrum.
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While both men draw approving crowds, they typically number in the dozens, much smaller than the mega-events the leading Democrats often hold. Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani found themselves this week speaking before rather subdued audiences filled with many people who have yet to make up their minds.
Mr. Giuliani used Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, as the foil to stir emotion. Mr. Romney was genteel by comparison, talking about “family values” and working hard to inspire with anecdotes.
The voters who support Mr. Giuliani or Mr. Romney cite recurrent themes in explaining their appeal. For Mr. Giuliani, the words that come up most often are “genuine,” “honest,” and “strong.” Mr. Romney’s admirers find him “competent,” “presidential” and a “family man.”
And for those who are not fans, Mr. Giuliani is viewed as more scary than straight-shooting, whereas Mr. Romney is thought too polished to be for real.
Mr. Romney tends to plant himself during his stump speeches, standing ramrod straight in his starched white shirt and tie. Mr. Giuliani often bounces around, so jittery during a speech in New Hampshire about health care last month that the camera crews in the back of the room interrupted him to stop him from pacing in and out of the frame.
At forums, Mr. Romney almost invariably tacks on to his response a “thank you,” even after a hostile question. When he spoke to a crowd on Thursday where the stage was in the middle of the room, he repeatedly apologized to those who had to look at his back. Mr. Giuliani, who is not without manners, is also not especially delicate, likely to flash a toothy grin when he hears something he considers absurd.
Mr. Giuliani, with his wife, Judith, in tow, was the first to drop by Mary Ann’s diner on Wednesday. The stop was an unusual bit of retail politicking, with limited interaction with voters. After just a few minutes of greeting people, the Giulianis sat down to eat an actual meal together — vegetarian egg-white omelets — with hordes of journalists hovering.
‘The street tough’
At the Chocolate Moose candy store in Salem, when Mr. Giuliani arrived he stopped in the men’s room as dozens of camera lenses trained on the door waiting for him to emerge.
Mr. Romney, on the other hand, campaigns with an energetic focus, purposeful at every step. At Mary Ann’s on Thursday, he worked hard to connect, pausing for extended conversations with patrons.
While Mr. Romney would hold four town-hall-style forums the next day, Mr. Giuliani’s campaign scheduled one, in Windham, at the end of a day of diner-hopping.
During Mr. Giuliani’s question-and-answer session, a woman in a wheelchair pressed him about the legalization of marijuana. She accused Mr. Giuliani of promising to have “federal agents arrest the sick and the dying.”
Mr. Giuliani, with his trademark smirk, interjected, with just a hint of underlying aggression, “I never said that.”
Here was the pugnacious, alpha male in Mr. Giuliani. The word “strength” is an important buzzword of Mr. Romney’s campaign, but he sometimes struggles to match Mr. Giuliani’s testosterone level.
“I find Rudy to be the street tough,” said Nancy Copa of New Boston, who has seen both in person and was interviewed after a Romney event on Thursday here. “That New York temperament, knock-off-the-kneecaps if I want to get on that bus.”
Mr. Romney, on the other hand, is more polite, Ms. Copa said. “I don’t think Mitt’s personality would work with that.”
But who will she vote for? She is still not sure.
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