TILTON, N.H. — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney warned his supporters Friday not to rest just because polls show he has a commanding lead with those planning to vote in New Hampshire's primary next week.
"Those polls, they can just disappear overnight," Romney said as supporters enjoyed a spaghetti dinner. "What you say to a pollster is a bit like going on a date. It's like, `Well, I'm going to try this, but getting married, that's something else.' We need to make sure you're working real hard."
Romney has led in New Hampshire polls for months – and two separate surveys out Friday show him up 20 percentage points or more over his closest rival, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Two debates loom this weekend, and rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are both looking to slow Romney ahead of the South Carolina primary if not in New Hampshire.
After weeks of insisting he wouldn't go negative, Gingrich has called Romney a liar. On Friday the former House speaker continued the criticism of Romney, saying that President Barack Obama would "laugh at him" in the general election.
Romney has defended negative campaigning as part of the primary crucible. But on Friday he insisted he would support the GOP's nominee and that "when it's all over we ought to be able to hug" and go on to defeat Obama.
"We'll put our egos and bruised feelings aside and come back and do what's the right thing for our nation," Romney said.
The former Massachusetts governor drew an enthusiastic crowd here. But he still faced a handful of difficult questions from those wondering, among other things, how he personally sacrifices to help the middle class.
"I'm a middle-class American like a lot of people here and we're all hurting, we really are," one woman said. "It's a little hard for me because I know you're a multimillionaire. I read that you have four houses. ... Would you be willing to give up some of that so that we middle Americans could get some tax cuts?"
Romney responded: "That's a good idea. OK, that's right. Let's see, well, I don't have four houses, that's No. 1, although it's a good idea. ... Thank you for the idea."
Romney, whose worth has been estimated at as much as $250 million, owns three homes, including one on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
Before returning to New Hampshire, Romney campaigned Friday morning in South Carolina with Sen. John McCain, the party's nominee in 2008. Romney criticized Obama's plan to shrink the military and focus more on Asia, calling it "inexcusable" and saying the policy must be reversed.
Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in South Carolina contributed to this report.