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Mitt Romney wants 'n word'-using police official to go. Why is he involved?

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File

(Read caption) Former Massachusetts Gov., and GOP ex-presidential candidate, Mitt Romney pauses while speaking at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., March 15, 2013. Romney is pushing for the Wolfeboro, N.H., police commissioner to resign over the use of an inflammatory racial slur to describe President Obama.

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[Updated at 6:20 p.m. EDT] GOP ex-presidential candidate Mitt Romney is pushing for the ouster of a local New Hampshire official who used an inflammatory racial slur to describe President Obama.

Mr. Romney, the former governor of next-door state Massachusetts, has long had a summer home in the idyllic lake town of Wolfeboro, N.H. Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland has lit a firestorm of national criticism by acknowledging use of the “n word” in describing America's chief executive.

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“The vile epithet used and confirmed by the commissioner has no place in our community. He should apologize and resign,” said Romney in a statement.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Copeland gave in and resigned his position. Perhaps Romney’s criticism was the final shove that convinced him to quit.

Here's the backstory. After a local resident complained that she had heard him use the vile reference, Copeland wrote his fellow police commissioners to acknowledge that he had done so.

“For this, I do not apologize – he meets and exceeds my criteria for such,” wrote Copeland to the other two commissioners, according to the Associated Press.

Local officials are probably now breathing a sigh of relief. They had said they had no way to force out the police commissioner if he had declined to go voluntarily.

Romney has long been one of Wolfeboro’s most prominent homeowners. He spends some time every summer with his large family at his lakeside estate. Given the publicity this controversy has received, the ex-presidential contender probably felt that it was contingent upon him to speak out, as well. He would not want anyone to take silence on the matter as an implicit endorsement of Copeland’s remark.

But don’t get excited – this is not a sign that he thinks maybe he has a shot at 2016, so he has to stay in front of the national news pack. We know things are slow for the pundit class right now, but let’s keep it in perspective.

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New Hampshire GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown condemned the remarks, as well, through a spokesperson. Pretty much every New Hampshire public figure with a pulse and/or a Twitter feed did the same. The revulsion was widespread and not limited to one party or the other.

Given that Wolfeboro depends on the tourist trade for its economic existence, and that unsavory controversies such as this one can be very bad for business, it seemed unlikely that Copeland could just hunker down and hope it all would blow over.