Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) — Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary, according to CNN projections, after voters turned out in expected record numbers Tuesday in the second contest of the Republican presidential race.
Based on early results and exit poll data, CNN also projected that Texas Rep. Ron Paul will finish in second place and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman will finish third. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum battled for fourth place, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the back of the pack.
Exit polls indicated Romney would get about 36% of the vote, with Paul receiving 23% and Huntsman 18%. Gingrich and Santorum came in with 10% and Perry with 1%, according to the exit polls.
With Romney’s victory expected, based on polling in recent weeks, the battle for second place and beyond became the focal point of the first-in-the-nation primary with implications for the next contest in South Carolina on January 21.
Despite the strong showing by Romney, who won nearly every group of voters after his narrow victory last week in the Iowa caucuses, all the other contenders made clear they would continue their campaigns in South Carolina.
A triumphant Romney told exuberant supporters they made history with a second straight victory.
“Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we go back to work,” Romney said, immediately assuming the posture of the Republican nominee who will face President Barack Obama in the November election.
Calling Obama “a failed president,” Romney said he was asking “the good people of South Carolina to join the good citizens of New Hampshire to make 2012 the year he (Obama) runs out of time.”
The crowd interrupted Romney with chants of his first name as he outlined a campaign strategy that portrayed Obama as a European-leaning big government advocate while defining his candidacy as a return to American ideals.
“This president puts his faith in government. We put our faith in the American people,” Romney said to cheers.
Paul told CNN that he expected to raise more money after a second-place finish, and he then told cheering supporters that their campaign for freedom in America would continue to grow.
Referring to Romney, Paul said “he certainly had a clear-cut victory, but we’re nibbling at his heels,” giving a chuckle as the crowd chanted “President Paul.”
In response to criticism by rivals that his calls for scrapping the Federal Reserve and bringing home American forces from around the world were dangerous, Paul declared: “We are dangerous, to the status quo.”
Huntsman told his supporters “I think we’re in the hunt,” adding “Hello, South Carolina” to emphasize his third-place finish would keep him in the race.
Gingrich and Santorum also said they would would head to South Carolina and emphasized how their policies and positions differ from both Romney and Obama.
, despite on Tuesday night to being campaigning there, and Perry already was in the Palmetto State in what amounted to a concession of New Hampshire.
“Tonight’s results in New Hampshire show the race for ‘conservative alternative’ to Mitt Romney remains wide open,” Perry said in a statement. “… I believe being the only non-establishment outsider in the race, the proven fiscal and social conservative and proven job creator will win the day in South Carolina.”
A record 250,000 voters were expected to turn out for the GOP primary on an unseasonably warm winter day, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told CNN. With no competitive challenger to President Barack Obama on the Democratic side, more “undeclared” voters could weigh in on the Republican race, he said.
“We’re hearing that the turnout is steady,” Scanlan said. “There aren’t lines that are backing up, but people are just constantly moving through the polling places. It’s certainly what we would expect during a presidential primary.”
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, earlier told Boston radio station WRKO that winning New Hampshire after Iowa would make history of a sort.
“It will be the first time I think anyone who is not an incumbent in our party would have won Iowa and New Hampshire,” Romney said.
Early exit poll data showed that nearly seven out of 10 Republican voters in the state were very worried about the economy and their personal financial situation.
One in four said the deficit was the most important issue. Also, more than three-quarters of respondents said the series of Republican debates was important to their final decision, while less than half said television ads were important.
The first votes were cast just after midnight in the tiny communities of Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location. In Dixville Notch, Romney and Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to China, led with with two votes each, while Romney edged Paul 5 to 4 in Hart’s Location.
Paul and Gingrich won one vote each in Dixville Notch. Huntsman placed third with two votes in Hart’s Location, while Gingrich and Perry got one vote each.
Obama received all the votes in the Democratic primary in both locations.
Huntsman, who skipped last week’s Iowa caucuses to campaign heavily in New Hampshire, told CNN his showing in Dixville Notch was “a harbinger of things to come.”
One of New Hampshire’s more than 300,000 “undeclared” or independent voter, Linda Underhill, told CNN on Tuesday that she decided to support Huntsman.
After initially backing Romney, Underhill shifted to Huntsman, calling him smart and likely to take a bipartisan approach.
“In the past few days, I watched him very closely,” Underhill said. “I just feel he is more genuine.”
Meanwhile, Gingrich argued that a Romney showing in the 30% range, as the most recent polling suggested, could hurt the front-runner even if he wins Tuesday’s contest.
“If he can’t come close to 50% here, it’s very unlikely he can sweep the nomination,” Gingrich told reporters in Bedford. “And I think that gives the party time to take a deep breath, look at his record and begin to realize that maybe this isn’t the right guy to run against Obama.”
Gingrich has been pounding at Romney since Iowa, complaining about a massive negative ad campaign against him by allies of the former Massachusetts governor. A Gingrich-allied super PAC has already launched its own anti-Romney barrage in South Carolina. And Gingrich and others have honed in on Romney’s years as a financier with Bain Capital, accusing him of getting rich by gutting companies and laying off workers.
Romney will have to answer questions about that in conservative South Carolina, Gingrich told CNN on Tuesday, acknowledging that the Palmetto State will be a key contest for his own presidential hopes.
“We’re going to go all out to win South Carolina. We think that’s a key state for us,” Gingrich said, describing the race there as a contrast between himself — a “Georgia Reagan conservative” — and Romney, “a Massachusetts moderate.”
Asked about the negative ads from the Gingrich camp, Romney told WRKO on Tuesday that they “will not help” his rival.
“All I have got to do is keep my head down, keep talking about my message of getting America back to work, my experience in having led two businesses successfully, the Olympics successfully,” Romney said.
Gingrich wasn’t alone in attacking Romney’s business record. In South Carolina, Perry told supporters Romney’s firm “looted” a photo company in Gaffney and a steel company in Georgetown.
“I would suggest they are just vultures,” Perry said. “They are vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick, then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton.”
Romney got a mere eight more votes than Santorum in the Iowa caucuses, while Paul finished a strong third. The libertarian doctor and Congress member has touted his plan to downsize government and chided the frontrunners for being unwilling to push for the kind of overhaul he believes Washington needs.
Santorum, meanwhile, saw his New Hampshire poll numbers surge from single digits to the low double digits after his near-win in Iowa. However, was downplaying expectations for Tuesday night.
“We haven’t spent a penny on broadcast television here in New Hampshire. We’ve only spent five days campaigning here in the last month. We just came here starting at two or three points pretty much tied with Rick Perry in New Hampshire. We’ve been working hard and now into the double digits. Hopefully we can finish well,” Santorum said.
Romney tops most national polling and is ahead in the latest surveys in South Carolina and Florida, the next two states to hold contests following New Hampshire. But he took new criticism Monday after a speech to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, when he said he wanted Americans who were unhappy with their health care coverage to be able to switch insurance companies.
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” he said. “You know, if someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I want to say, ‘You know, I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.’ ”
The first seven words of that sentence — “I like being able to fire people,” dangled like low-hanging fruit, and some of Romney’s rivals pounced.
“Governor Romney enjoys firing people. I enjoy creating jobs,” Huntsman said at a campaign stop in Concord on Monday.
Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho said opponents are taking Romney’s remarks out of context — a point on which Gingrich and Paul defended him Tuesday. But the attacks have fed the image of Romney that his GOP opponents and Democrats have pushed: That he’s a wealthy businessman who can’t connect to average Americans.
“The language was a little bit clumsy and open to misinterpretation and that might raise some questions about whether or not he’s the right person to debate Barack Obama, which I think is an essential characteristic for this fall, but nonetheless, I thought it was unfair to suggest that he actually liked firing people,” Gingrich said.
Marijuana doesn’t harm lung function, study found
By LINDSEY TANNER
CHICAGO (AP) — Smoking a joint once a week or a bit more apparently doesn’t harm the lungs, suggests a 20-year study that bolsters evidence that marijuana doesn’t do the kind of damage tobacco does.The results, from one of the largest and longest studies on the health effects of marijuana, are hazier for heavy users – those who smoke two or more joints daily for several years. The data suggest that using marijuana that often might cause a decline in lung function, but there weren’t enough heavy users among the 5,000 young adults in the study to draw firm conclusions.
Still, the authors recommended “caution and moderation when marijuana use is considered.”
Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law although some states allow its use for medical purposes.
The study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham was released Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The findings echo results in some smaller studies that showed while marijuana contains some of the same toxic chemicals as tobacco, it does not carry the same risks for lung disease.
It’s not clear why that is so, but it’s possible that the main active ingredient in marijuana, a chemical known as THC, makes the difference. THC causes the “high” that users feel. It also helps fight inflammation and may counteract the effects of more irritating chemicals in the drug, said Dr. Donald Tashkin, a marijuana researcher and an emeritus professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tashkin was not involved in the new study.
Study co-author Dr. Stefan Kertesz said there are other aspects of marijuana that may help explain the results.
Unlike cigarette smokers, marijuana users tend to breathe in deeply when they inhale a joint, which some researchers think might strengthen lung tissue. But the common lung function tests used in the study require the same kind of deep breathing that marijuana smokers are used to, so their good test results might partly reflect lots of practice, said Kertesz, a drug abuse researcher and preventive medicine specialist at the Alabama university.
The study authors analyzed data from participants in a 20-year federally funded health study in young adults that began in 1985. Their analysis was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The study randomly enrolled 5,115 men and women aged 18 through 30 in four cities: Birmingham, Chicago, Oakland, Calif., and Minneapolis. Roughly equal numbers of blacks and whites took part, but no other minorities. Participants were periodically asked about recent marijuana or cigarette use and had several lung function tests during the study.
Overall, about 37 percent reported at least occasional marijuana use, and most users also reported having smoked cigarettes; 17 percent of participants said they’d smoked cigarettes but not marijuana. Those results are similar to national estimates.
On average, cigarette users smoked about 9 cigarettes daily, while average marijuana use was only a joint or two a few times a month – typical for U.S. marijuana users, Kertesz said.
The authors calculated the effects of tobacco and marijuana separately, both in people who used only one or the other, and in people who used both. They also considered other factors that could influence lung function, including air pollution in cities studied.
The analyses showed pot didn’t appear to harm lung function, but cigarettes did. Cigarette smokers’ test scores worsened steadily during the study. Smoking marijuana as often as one joint daily for seven years, or one joint weekly for 20 years was not linked with worse scores. Very few study participants smoked more often than that.
Like cigarette smokers, marijuana users can develop throat irritation and coughs, but the study didn’t focus on those. It also didn’t examine lung cancer, but other studies haven’t found any definitive link between marijuana use and cancer.
via Jared Bernstein
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The Socialist Party USA is skeptical of Rick Perry’s claim Sunday that President Obama is a socialist.
“The notion that Barack Obama is a socialist ranks among the greatest fairy tales in American society — right up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and the idea that if you work hard enough your children will live a better life than you,” Socialist Party spokesperson Lynn Lomibao said in an email. “Socialists know what Obama is: another corporate funded politician placed in the White House to protect the wealth and status of the 1%.”
During a Sunday morning debate, Perry said, “I make a very proud statement and a fact that we have a president that’s a socialist.” Perry said states could do a better job than the federal government in delivering education, health care, and environmental regulations.
The Socialist Party, which The New York Times reported last year has 1,000 members, doesn’t see much socialism coming from the Obama administration.
“When Americans needed a solution to mass unemployment, Obama gave away billions in cash to bail out the banks,” Lomibao continued. “When Americans needed a single-payer healthcare system, Obama promoted a pro-health insurance healthcare ‘reform’ package that forced millions into junk healthcare plans subsidized by public funds. And when American workers asked for the right to join a union without employer harassment through the Employee Free Choice Act, Obama showed who he really answers to by betraying the promises he made to working people during his campaign.”
— Arthur Delaney