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Romney strikes Republicans as a phony

The signs were the sign of what was to come for Mitt Romney.

Twenty-four hours before New Hampshire voted, most of the signs in the heart of Wolfeboro, N.H., were for John McCain -- though Romney owns a lavish home in this resort community.

Perhaps Romney's neighbors harbored resentment from the days when he was elected governor of Massachusetts and put up a security perimeter around his lakefront property. The community disliked the notion of an imperial governor, and the police asked him to take it down. Perhaps they didn't like the kind of presidential campaign Romney ran in their state.

Tuesday, Romney lost the Republican primary to McCain.

This is a more serious blow than last week's second-place finish in Iowa; his own neighbors essentially rejected him.

The signs in New Hampshire pointed toward McCain for a while. In December, The Concord Monitor published an extraordinary editorial, which stated, "If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it. Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and Independents must vote 'no.' "

Romney's campaign dismissed it as the wacky opinion of a liberal editorial board. But other New Hampshire newspapers, including the conservative Union Leader, backed McCain.

"We thought we knew New Hampshire ... but now we really know New Hampshire," Romney said during Tuesday night's concession speech.

It turns out New Hampshire knew Romney better than he knew New Hampshire, and voters didn't like what they knew.

Vennochi is a columnist for the Boston Globe. Her e-mail address is