Republican presidential hopeful, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney shakes hands following a speech to area business leaders at a luncheon at the Governors Inn in Rochester, N.H., Tuesday, May 29, 2007. (AP Photo / Jim Cole)
ROCHESTER — Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said on Tuesday his experience as a Republican governor in a traditionally Democratic state prepares him well to work in a bipartisan fashion in Washington.
"(As governor) I developed a genuine respect for the character and personality of leaders on the other side of the aisle," said Romney. "Sometimes we disagreed vehemently on policy, but we got along."
During a busy day of campaigning in New Hampshire, Romney also said if elected he would likely accept the presidential salary of $400,000 annually but donate the money. While governor of Massachusetts, Romney declined his $135,000 annual salary.
"I haven't really thought ahead that far," Romney said at first. "There are some questions I haven't forecasted, perhaps because that would seem presumptuous of me."
Then, he added: "I presume I would take the salary and then I would donate at least that amount — or more — to charity."
After spending Memorial Day near his Wolfeboro vacation home, Romney traveled to Dover on Tuesday morning and made stops in Somersworth, Rochester, Alton and Laconia throughout the day.
His trip started on a sour note when a Dover restaurant patron declared he would not vote for him because of his Mormon faith.
In Rochester, the former governor spoke at the Business and Industry Association's National Leaders Forum, where he told the crowd many of the skills he used in the private sector have translated well to his work in government.
"The same approach — being honest about the problems and then assembling a team of remarkable people to work together to analyze the risks and rewards and finally setting a course of action — has paid huge dividends," he said.
If elected, Romney said he would use the same strategy in the White House.
The challenges? According to Romney, the U.S. is spending too much money in Washington, using too much oil at a time when the nation could be working to become energy independent, the immigration system isn't working, schools aren't up to par, the health care system is leaving at least 45 million people behind, the U.S. is facing tougher competition from Asia and there's a potential spread of radical violent jihadists.
But despite the list of challenges, he's optimistic about the future.
"America can respond and overcome every challenge we face," Romney said. "We have the heart of the American people, who always rise to the occasion."
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.