Romney puts presidential push into gear by unveiling the latest model of himself in New Hampshire

Well, 2011 sure zipped by quickly. Somebody must have stuffed the entire year in a NASCAR Chevy and Dale Earnhardt Jr. zoomed off with it. Because in case you missed it, 2012 rang in over the weekend.

At least the presidential campaign portion of it anyway.

Mitt Romney … you remember him, right? … gave a speech in New Hampshire Saturday night and that dropped the green flag on this race. Ladies (that’s for you Sarah) and gentlemen, start your engines!

Amazing thing about New Hampshire. Nobody goes there except when there is a presidential tussle going on. And then everybody flocks there in the cold and snow as if it were a destination retreat like Maui or the GoggleWorks.

Romney lit the pilot on the blue flame of his latest presidential bid (unofficially, of course) and he’s hoping this time voters actually dig his shtick. If you recall, in 2008 his campaign moved like a cloud rolling across the moon, leaving only a shadow to chase.

The problem is nobody really seems to know Mitt Romney. Especially himself. This guy keeps reinventing himself. He was a socially moderate businessman when he won election as Massachusetts governor in 2002. He was a socially conservative presidential candidate in 2008 when he ran to John McCain’s and Rudy Giuliani’s right on abortion, stem cells and illegal immigration. And now he evidently is avoiding social issues as if they were the plague, leprosy and AIDS while focusing on economic issues.

“I know how jobs are created and how jobs are lost,” he told New Hampshire, where everybody’s job is to wear flannel shirts, live free, eat pie and gargle granite, to emphasize that he knows business and means business.

But Romney has two major hurdles to clear if he wants to plop in the Oval Office.

One, his RomneyCare in Massachusetts seems to be a kissing cousin of ObamaCare … the kiss of death if you are a Republican. Romney is trying to counter that by falling back on the federalism argument (“One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover”). Man, nobody has talked states rights that fervently since the pre-Civil War days.

Two, Romney is stiffer than King Tut. So he apparently has thrown away all his neckties. Speaking of NASCAR, Romney wore a Bass Pro Shops shirt while mingling with drivers at the Daytona 500 last month. What’s next? Donning a Phillies’ uniform and trying to steal second base against the Mets?

Why do have this feeling that the 2012 campaign is gonna seem longer than the Hundred Years War?