Romney Claims Victory in New Hampshire

Posted January 10th, 2012 at 11:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has claimed victory in the Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire.

With more than 75 percent of the precincts reporting, Romney has a double-digit lead over Texas Congressman and anti-war advocate Ron Paul. Former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is in third place, with former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-U.S. senator Rick Santorum battling for fourth place.

Romney told supporters the state had “made history.” He is the first Republican to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in a competitive race in more than 30 years.

Romney also took aim at Barack Obama, calling him a “failed president.” He criticized Mr. Obama's approach to a range of policy issues and said he would lead the country down a different path.

“Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. He believes that America's role as a leader in the world is a thing of the past. I believe a strong America must and will lead the future. He doesn't see the need for overwhelming American military superiority. I will insist on a military so powerful no one would ever think of challenging it. He criticizes our friends like Israel. I will always stand with our friends. And he apologizes for America. I will never apologize for the greatest nation in the history of the earth.”

Many political analysts predicted Romney would win New Hampshire. But the battle for second and third place also is important, as it could help determine which candidates stay in the race.

Paul said New Hampshire also represented a victory for him.

“Now, I called Governor Romney a short while ago, before he gave his talk, and congratulated him because he certainly had a clear-cut victory. But we're nibbling at his heels. But there was another victory tonight. He had a victory, but we have had a victory for the cause of liberty tonight.”

Speaking to his supporters, Huntsman vowed to continue on to the South Carolina primary on January 21, calling third place “a ticket to ride.”

Huntsman also promised to fix Americans' lack of trust in the nation's wars abroad.

“We have run the Taliban from power. We have upended and dismantled al-Qaida. They are now in sanctuaries in Waziristan and beyond. Osama bin Laden is no longer around. We have had free elections. We have strengthened civil society and helped the military and helped the police. We have done what this nation can do. It is time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, ladies and gentlemen.”

Gingrich said he also would carry on to South Carolina.

“So we are going to take to South Carolina tonight, and kick off tomorrow morning, a campaign for jobs and economic growth, a campaign for a balanced budget, a campaign for returning power to the states through the 10th Amendment, a campaign for a strong national security, a campaign for a solid, stable national security program, both for people now on it, and for the young people who are here who deserve a chance in their lifetime to have an even better program with an even greater return.”

Voting in New Hampshire got under way Tuesday just after midnight local time in Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border. Romney – who held a large lead in public opinion polls – won two of the town's nine possible votes, tying him with Huntsman. Voters headed to gymnasiums, town halls and even churches to cast their votes.

Romney drew criticism from some of his Republican rivals after a speech Monday in which he said “I like being able to fire people.” The statement was directed at health insurance companies that fail to provide good service, and Romney said it was taken out of context.

Romney's rivals also have been hammering him on his previous career running a private investment firm . They allege the firm laid off hundreds of employees in an effort to boost already large profits.

In his speech Tuesday night, Romney hit back.

“President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. And in the last few days, we've seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our party, and for our nation. The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We have to offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.”

Santorum lost to Romney by only eight votes last week in the Iowa caucuses.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are not only going to go out and deliver a message of the basic structure and the foundation of our country being faith and family and an opportunity society. But we are going to do so understanding that with faith in the American people, we can not only wipe out this deficit, we can not only rebuild this economy, we can not only have a strong America that stands up for the values I just talked about. But we can do so in a huge victory that will rally this country to take on the great challenges that we have before us.”

All the candidates have been seeking to highlight their conservative credentials against the more liberal President Obama, a Democrat. Mr. Obama faced no major challengers in his party's primary vote Tuesday.