Nightly News | December 21, 2011
>>> there is the candidate who as former governor of massachusetts is the frontrunner in the next contest. in his part-time home state of new hampshire . nbc's chuck todd talked to mitt romney today one on one and is with us tonight from ashland, new hampshire. part of the news is you got to talk to mitt romney who had been pursuing a strategy of not talking to the media largely.
>> reporter: yeah. we were able to sit down with him a couple of times today. he's been the off and on frontrunner all year long but there is no state that's more make or break than new hampshire. this three-day bus trip is part of a strategy to make romney more available to voters and the press including two interviews with nbc news today. he's no less cautious and wouldn't take sides on the payroll tax cut. he was dismissive of its effect on the economy.
>> this is not going to turn the economy around. it's a very helpful feature for families.
>> reporter: romney struggled to persuade republican primary voters that he's conservative enough.
>> coming from massachusetts people begin with an assumption that perhaps you are not as conservative as they are. as they get to know me and look at my record they will recognize, no, i'm conservative.
>> reporter: there is a health care mandate in massachusetts is a conservative situation.
>> there were oh two options in my state. one was to continue to allow people without insurance to go to the homt and get free care. the alternative to that was to say people who can afford to buy insurance themselves should do so at personal responsibility. it's more conservative in my view than something given out for free by government.
>> reporter: he says his opponents are wrong when they accuse him of being a persistent flip-flopper.
>> obviously the change was most significant with regard to abortion. have i become more conservative in 20 years? absolutely.
>> reporter: he said republicans need to be clear about wall street reform.
>> we talk about deregulation. people assume we mean getting rid of all regulation. that's not the case.
>> reporter: when walking into romney 's part of the bus first you notice a campaign banner for his dad george.
>> my dad was a man of unquestioned integrity. he said exactly what he believed regardless of the consequences. i want that to with be my model.
>> reporter: he acknowledges the mormon faith he learned from his father could be a liability.
>> i don't know the reasons i lost iowa. for some my faith is an issue.
>> reporter: of course, brian, i did ask him about the gingrich complaints about all these negative ads and the super pacs. he said the heat from obama's kitchen will be hotter. gingrich responded harshly saying, quote, i'll tell you what, if he wants to test the heat i'll meet him in iowa next week, one on one, 90 minutes , no moderator. and so it goes.