Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been in pole position in the battle for the New Hampshire primary for months.
He certainly acted like that Thursday in Salem, appearing energized and ready for the next step: a general election battle against President Barack Obama.
"The gap between what (Obama) has promised and what he's done is about as wide as you can imagine," Romney said. "He has been over his head when it comes to leading this country."
His remarks came during a packed town hall meeting with over 200 in attendance at the Salem Boys & Girls Club, where he was joined by his latest high-profile ally and former rival Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
Romney went after Obama for his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (calling them "labor stooges"), for not imposing "crippling sanctions" against Iran and for enabling an economic recovery that is "the most tepid" since the Hoover administration.
"Capitalism and free market enterprise works," Romney said. "Crony capitalism does not. This president is engaging in crony capitalism."
He later said Obama doesn't want to create green jobs, but to "create jobs for people that gave him the green," a line that garnered applause.
Romney said America is heading into a "European social welfare state" under Obama.
"He does not understand in his heart the passion of freedom and the power of freedom and opportunity," Romney said. "We are a merit society. Please don't change America into something we're not."
A new Union Leader poll shows Romney lapping the field in New Hampshire with 47 percent support of GOP primary voters, 30 percent more than Ron Paul in second with 17 percent.