MANCHESTER, N.H .— Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas on Monday, adding to a nearly clean sweep of top New Hampshire political names. But stumping at a diner here, he clearly did not win over one potential voter concerned with his position on gay rights.
Gatsas appeared with Romney at the Chez Vachon and praised him as a candidate who could fix everything from chronic joblessness to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. To date, most of New Hampshire’s Republican political establishment has endorsed the former Massachusetts governor except for Rep. Frank Guinta, who has not said which candidate he is supporting in the state’s pivotal first-in-the-nation primary next month.
As he was greeting diners, Romney drifted over to speak with a middle-aged man in a booth, apparently not realizing the patron was there dining with his gay partner. During a polite but awkward exchange, Bob Garon, 63, asked Romney whether he would support the repeal of state laws allowing same-sex marriage. As he has maintained on the campaign trail, Romney said he believed marriage should be a union of a man and a woman.
His press spokesman tried to cut off the conversation, and Garon said mockingly, “Oh, I guess the question was too hot.” Romney shot back, “You said you wanted a yes or no answer, and I gave you the answer.”
Garon replied, “You did, and I appreciate your answer. And I learned something. New Hampshire is right, you have to look a man in the eye to get a good answer, and you know what, governor? Good luck. You’re going to need it.”
Garon later told reporters that he had served in the Army, including more than a year in Vietnam during the war, and believes his partner is entitled to “the same benefits [as] if I was married to a woman. What the hell is the difference?”