Romney, Battered but Still Going Strong, Marches Closer to Republican Coronation: Romney Moves Closer to Republican Coronation

By Goodman, Lee-Anne | The Canadian Press, January 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

Romney, Battered but Still Going Strong, Marches Closer to Republican Coronation: Romney Moves Closer to Republican Coronation


Goodman, Lee-Anne, The Canadian Press


WASHINGTON - A bruised but unbowed Mitt Romney decisively won the all-important New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, fending off relentless attacks from his Republican rivals to march a step closer to his coronation as his party's presidential nominee.

Romney took the country's first primary with about 38 per cent of voter support, a double-digit victory over his closest rival, Ron Paul. The former Massachusetts governor is the first Republican candidate since 1976 to win the first two GOP contests -- the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire.

"Tonight, we made history," Romney, surrounded by his wife and five sons, told his cheering supporters in Manchester, N.H. "Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we go back to work."

Romney's now riding a wave of momentum as he heads to the upcoming South Carolina primary. His campaign is taking on an air of inevitability as he aims to become the Republican who will take on U.S. President Barack Obama in November's general election.

Just as he did in New Hampshire, Romney sits atop the polls in the so-called Palmetto State, home to far more socially conservative primary voters, many of them evangelicals. Those voters were suspicious of both his moderate record and his Mormon faith just four years ago, when Romney unsuccessfully made his first bid for the nomination.

Romney's campaign is getting an additional boost by the fact that none of his rivals are dropping out of the race following New Hampshire. That scatters the vote and puts Romney in a better position to win in South Carolina.

The New Hampshire primary, meantime, represented a huge victory for Paul, the 76-year-old Texas libertarian who won about 24 per cent of the vote to take second place.

"(Romney) certainly had a clear-cut victory but we're nibbling at his heels," Paul said to raucous cheers from his young supporters who chanted "President Paul."

"We have had a victory for the cause of liberty tonight .... We will restore freedom to this country."

Huntsman, meantime, placed third at about 17 per cent. That's good enough for him to stay in the race, he said.

"I think we're in the hunt," the former Utah governor told his supporters as he vowed to continue on to South Carolina.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum trailed the top three at about 10 per cent each, duking it out for fourth place, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry placed last.

For Santorum, in particular, it was a disappointing night.

The staunch social conservative came within a handful of votes of beating Romney in Iowa, but got absolutely no bounce from that victory in New Hampshire, whose primary voters are far more moderate.

Nonetheless, he predicted a better finish in South Carolina, where voters are far more receptive to his views than those in New Hampshire. Gingrich, for his part, has all but declared war on Romney, and warns he'll cause the front-runner trouble in South Carolina.

Romney's victory came despite a full-frontal assault in recent days from his rivals, particularly Gingrich, over his years at the helm of private equity firm Bain Capital -- a surprising attack, considering the Republican party has long championed free enterprise and looser government regulations for the financial industry. …

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