NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — President Barack Obama tried to sway voters on Saturday in the anti-tax state by criticizing Republican rival Mitt Romney for backing "cradle-to-grave" tax and fee hikes when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Obama spoke to about 8,500 people outside a middle school in Nashua, on the Massachusetts border. Pointing out the proximity, Obama said that while Romney promised to fight for jobs and middle-class families when he ran for governor, he ended up pushing through a tax cut that helped the wealthy while raising fees that hurt the middle class to the tune of $750 million.
"There were higher fees to be a barber, higher fees to become a nurse," he said. "There were higher fees for gas. There were higher fees for milk. There were higher fees for blind people who needed to get a certificate (saying) that they were blind."
Obama, who has been accused by members of the birther movement of being born outside the United States, joked that Romney even "raised fees to get a birth certificate, which would've been expensive for me."
Rounding out the list was a fee on funeral homes, Obama said.
"There were literally cradle-to-grave tax hikes and fees," he said, adding that during Romney's time as governor, only three states ranked lower in job creation than Massachusetts.
Romney spokesman Ryan Williams called Obama's criticism "laughable coming from a president whose only plan for a second term is to recycle the failed policies of the last four years." He said Romney cut taxes 19 times as governor and created tens of thousands of new jobs.
"President Obama is the only candidate in this race who has raised taxes on America's middle class," he said.
Saturday's rally was the Democratic president's sixth trip to New Hampshire this year and was one of several high-profile campaign events planned for the state in the next few days, though a huge storm barreling toward the East Coast had both campaigns adjusting travel schedules and canceling events.
First lady Michelle Obama had been scheduled to speak at the University of New Hampshire on Tuesday but canceled because the school is closing due to the approaching storm. As of Saturday, Romney still planned to hold a rally in Milford on Tuesday night, and his wife was due in the state Monday.
The activity underscores the degree to which New Hampshire's four electoral college votes are valued in what is expected to be a close election. A WMUR-TV Granite State poll released Oct. 9 showed Obama with a slight lead over Romney in New Hampshire. A Suffolk University/7 News poll released a week later showed the two tied.
Introducing Obama, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tried to rally female voters by again mocking Romney's recent debate comments that he was given "binders full of women" when he sought to diversify his administration.
"We don't need binders full of women. We have ballots full of women," said Shaheen, the first woman elected governor and the state's first female U.S. senator.
Democrats have nominated women for governor and the state's two congressional seats this year.
"It's clear that women can't trust Mitt Romney," Shaheen said. "We'll keep our rights, we'll keep our health care and we'll keep our president."
Ahead of Hurricane Sandy, Obama also brought some "Fire and Rain" to New Hampshire, where he was joined by singer James Taylor. Taylor, who performed that and several other of his hits, said that while Republicans say they don't need government, storms like the one expected to hit the Northeast early next week make it clear that "we need someone there to help us."
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