Occupy Protests Roll Off Romney

Romney's an expert when it comes to staying on message.

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Occupy Wall Streeters might've crashed a Mitt Romney rally this weekend, but their tactics aren't likely to work on the GOP frontrunner who's enjoying healthy support from a home-team crowd in New Hampshire.

"Romney knows what he wants to talk about, he knows what his message is, and whether the criticism is coming from Occupy or Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry or even the White House, Romney gets back on message very quickly," says Stu Rothenberg of "The Rothenberg Political Report," a non-partisan political newsletter.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

Occupiers interrupted Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a rally in New Hampshire Sunday, chanting "Mitt kills jobs." Romney swiftly dispatched the protesters saying, "We're happy to have you guys express your views, next time try to do it with more courtesy."

And that's really what Mitt Romney does best, Rothenberg says. He takes attacks—whether from political opponents or Occupy protesters—and parlays them into a message that suits his campaign, and usually comes out looking like the good guy.

Despite their efforts to discredit Romney, the Occupy protesters might actually have done Romney a favor, especially with Christie—adept at diffusing tense political situations with sarcasm-tinged straight talk—waiting in the wings to back him up.

"Really?" asked Christie after members of a local Occupy Wall Street contingent interrupted him. "Something may go down tonight, but it ain't going to be jobs, sweetheart."

[Read: Independents Could Impact Result in New Hampshire.]

In both instances, Occupiers' chants seemed almost drowned out by a pro-Romney hum, underscoring the fact that Romney and Christie were in front of a "home team" crowd.

"These are mostly Republican voters who are going to Republican presidential primary events," Rothenberg says. "To them it's not so much about fairness; it's about this group on the political left that is disrupting events."

"It just gives Romney or Christie or anybody an opportunity to fire back and to draw the contrast," Rothenberg adds.

mhandley@usnews.com

Twitter: @mmhandley

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