Mitt Romney looked to get his small town swerve on Friday, returning to the same sprawling farm where he launched his campaign just over a year ago and then dishing out ice cream to supporters who had come to see him speak in a quaint town square - all as part on effort to address the economic concerns of the small town voters that make up the party's base.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the presumptive GOP nominee, whose foray into the Granite state was somewhat overshadowed by President Obama's announcement that he'd stop deporting most illegal immigrant students and young adults - forcing the former Massachusetts governor to weigh in on a thorny issue that threatens to complicate his efforts to reach out to another important slice of the electorate, Latino voters.
Welcome to the opening day of the presumptive GOP nominee's first traditional campaign trip of the general election - a jaunt that not only underscores the crucial role that both the Granite State and rural voters could play in the election, but also the unpredictable nature of presidential politics.
Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who served as the rural outreach director for Sen. John McCain's 2008 president campaign, said that the Romney camp is likely well aware that voters in these small towns could very well make or break his dream of becoming the 45th president of the United States.
"It is the rural vote that could put him over the top," Mr. O'Connell said. "He is going to win it, it os just a question of by how much."
With small towns feeling the economic crunch more than their suburban cousins, Mr. O'Connell said he thinks there is an avenue for Mr. Romney to rack up something close to the 19 percentage point margin that George W. Bush enjoyed in his successful 2004 re-election bid.
Mr. Obama, meanwhile, would like to see something like the results of his 2008 campaign, where he kept Mr. McCain's margin of victory among rural voters to 8 percent points - and dominated in urban areas.