Mitt Romney is a part-time resident of this tiny state, and his fiscally conservative, socially moderate tenure as governor of neighboring Massachusetts once seemed a good match for New Hampshire’s independent and libertarian-leaning electorate.

Yet, Romney trails President Barack Obama in polls here, as he does in most other presidential battlegrounds, despite spending considerable time and money to lock up the state’s four Electoral College votes. Some New Hampshire voters say they are turned off by his shift to the right on issues like abortion, while others have absorbed the message from Obama campaign ads depicting Romney as a wealthy corporate titan who doesn’t understand the concerns of ordinary people.

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“He’s just another rich, arrogant son of a gun,” said Norm Small, 61, a registered independent who runs a bowling alley in Berlin in northern New Hampshire. The town is home to many of the working-class white voters who have never embraced Obama, but interviews found many residents deeply skeptical of Romney’s fiscal policies and aura of privilege.

Small said he was offended by comments Romney made at a secretly videotaped Florida fundraiser suggesting that 47 percent of people see themselves as “victims” entitled to public assistance and are unwilling to take responsibility for their own lives. The Obama campaign is running a tough new ad in New Hampshire drawing attention to those remarks.

“The people who are getting help probably really need it,” Small said. “Romney says 47 percent of people are living off the dole? He should realize that lot of them are struggling.”

Polls until recently had shown Romney giving strong chase to Obama in a state Obama carried by nearly 10 percentage points over Republican John McCain four years ago. But a University of New Hampshire poll released Monday found Obama leading Romney by 52-37 percent among likely New Hampshire voters. read more…