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.
“Donate $100 or more to Rick’s campaign between now and January 11, and we will send your very own official Rick Santorum For President sweater vest. Perfect for demonstrating solidarity with true conservatives, this vest is a great way to show your support for Rick. It’s 100% cotton, made in the USA, comes in grey, and is yours for your contribution of $100 or more. Don’t let sleeves slow you down — donate today!
* Demand has been extremely high for this item. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery. Thanks again for supporting Rick’s campaign.”
Photo via @FearRicksVest
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
(CNN) — There are two Rick Santorums: The first one I might not agree with, but the second one truly scares me.
“Santorum One” pushes for less government regulation for corporations and shrinking the federal government. You may or may not agree with these positions, but they are both mainstream conservative fare.
Then there’s “Santorum Two.” This Santorum wants to impose conservative Christian law upon America. Am I being hyperbolic or overly dramatic with this statement? I wish I were, but I’m not.
Plainly put, Rick Santorum wants to convert our current legal system into one that requires our laws to be in agreement with religious law, not unlike what the Taliban want to do in Afghanistan.
Santorum is not hiding this. The only reason you may not be aware of it is because up until his recent surge in the polls, the media were ignoring him. However, “Santorum Two” was out there telling anyone who would listen.
He told a crowd at a November campaign stop in Iowa in no uncertain terms, “our civil laws have to comport with a higher law: God’s law.”
On Thanksgiving Day at an Iowa candidates’ forum, he reiterated: “We have civil laws, but our civil laws have to comport with the higher law.”
Yes, that means exactly what you think it does: Santorum believes that each and every one of our government’s laws must match God’s law, warning that “as long as there is a discordance between the two, there will be agitation.” I’m not exactly sure what “agitation” means in this context, but I think it’s a code word for something much worse than acid reflux.
And as an aside, when Santorum says “God,” he means “not any god (but) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” So, if your god differs from Rick’s, your god’s views will be ignored, just like the father is on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Some of you might be asking: How far will “Santorum Two” take this? It’s not like he’s going to base public policy decisions on Bible passages, right?
Well, here’s what Santorum had to say just last week when asked about his opposition to gay marriage: “We have Judeo-Christian values that are based on biblical truth. … And those truths don’t change just because people’s attitudes may change.”
Santorum could not be more unambiguous: His policy decisions will be based on “biblical truths,” and as he noted, these “truths” will not change regardless of whether public opinion has evolved since the time the Bible was written thousands of years ago.
Imagine if either of the two Muslim members of Congress declared their support for a proposed American law based on verses from the Quran. The outcry would be deafening, especially from people like Santorum.
One of the great ironies is that Santorum has been a leader in sounding alarm bells that Muslims want to impose Islamic law — called Sharia law — upon non-Muslims in America. While Santorum fails to offer even a scintilla of credible evidence to support this claim, he continually warns about the “creeping” influence of Muslim law.
Santorum’s fundamental problem with Sharia law is that it’s “not just a religious code. It is also a governmental code. It happens to be both religious in nature and origin, but it is a civil code.”
Consequently, under the Sharia system, the civil laws of the land must comport with God’s law. Now, where did I hear about someone wanting to impose only laws that agree with God’s law in America?
So, what type of nation might the United States be under Rick Santorum’s Sharia law?
1. Rape victims would be forced to give birth to the rapist’s child. Santorum has stated that his religious beliefs dictate that life begins at conception, and as a result, rape victims would be sentenced to carrying the child of the rapist for nine months.
2. Gay marriages would be annulled. Santorum recently declaredthat not only does he oppose gay marriages, but he supports a federal constitutional amendment that would ban them, invalidating all previous gay marriages that have legally been sanctioned by states and thus callously destroying marriages and thrusting families into chaos.
3. Santorum would ban all federal funding for birth control and would not oppose any state that wanted to pass laws making birth control illegal.
4. No porn! I’m not kidding. Santorum signed “The Marriage Vow” pledge (PDF) authored by the Family Leader organization, under which he swears to oppose pornography. I think many would agree that alone should disqualify him from being president.
To me, “Santorum Two” truly poses an existential threat to the separation of church and state, one of the bedrock principles of our nation since its inception. Not only did Thomas Jefferson speak of the need to create “a wall of separation between church and state,” so did Santorum’s idol, Ronald Reagan, who succinctly stated, “church and state are, and must remain, separate.”
While there may be millions of Americans who in their heart agree with the views of “Santorum Two,” it is my hope they will reject any attempts to move America closer to a becoming the Afghanistan of the Western Hemisphere.
An Appanoose County man told an Iowa TV station today that he thinks there was a 20-vote discrepancy in the count in the town of Moulton – which could tilt the tight Iowa caucuses victory in Rick Santorum’s favor.
But Republican Party of Iowa officials said tonight that they have talked with Appanoose County GOP officials and don’t have any reason to believe the final results in the county will change the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.
Mitt Romney won the Iowa caucuses by the thinnest of margins: 8 votes, out of about 120,000 votes cast.
Edward True, 28, of Moulton, told KCCI that the GOP’s results showed 22 votes for Romney when he thinks it was only 2. True said he and 52 other people caucused at the Garrett Memorial Library.
Iowa GOP Chairman Matt Strawn in a statement tonight said:
“Iowa GOP rules provide for a two-week certification process for each of the 1,774 precincts. The Iowa GOP will announce the final, certified results of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses following this process.
“Out of respect to the candidates involved, party officials will not respond to every rumor, innuendo or allegation during the two week process.
That said, Iowa GOP officials have been in contact with Appanoose County Republican officials tonight and do not have any reason to believe the final, certified results of Appanoose County will change the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.”
Rick Santorum is the man to watch in Iowa. After months near the bottom of polls, but living in the state and visiting all 99 counties, the former Pennsylvania Senator has surged into contention, placing third in the most recent Des Moines register poll.
He’s pointed to his ability to get elected statewide twice as a conservative senator in Pennsylvania. But he doesn’t as much mention his blistering, 18 percentage point defeat there in 2006 to Bob Casey, a conservative Democrat.
Today he explained away that loss because 2006 was an historically bad year for Republicans, who lost control of both houses of Congress.
“It was the worst election year for republicans in the history of the state, this isn’t going to be 2006,” said Santorum, who stopped between campaign stops in Iowa to talk to ABC News.
“If I was the only guy that lost and everybody else won you could say that, oh well, that guy is in trouble. We stood up and didn’t flinch. We stood up and said this is what we believed the problem are… I was prepared to stand up and fight for what I believed in, and I wasn’t supposed to win any of the elections I ever ran, and I won the first four against odds no one would have ever taken. And they were decent election years, some good, some not so good. We were able to win those elections in heavily democratic districts, because we stood up for what we believed in, and you know what and when that went south in a big way we lost, its ok, this is not that election year.”
I pointed out that Democrats say that one of the reasons Santorum lost in 2006 was because they say he’s more conservative than mainstream America. One issue was Santorum’s opposition to the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception. Santorum said he still feels that a state should be able to make such laws.
“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statues they have. That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court, they are creating rights, and they should be left up to the people to decide,” he said.
“You shouldn’t create constitutional rights when states do dumb things,” Santorum said. “Let the people decide if the states are doing dumb things get rid of the legislature and replace them as opposed to creating constitutional laws that have consequences that were before them.”
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum denied recently making comments about “black people’s lives” after receiving criticism for the remarks.
Santorum took heat after saying, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” During an appearance on FOX News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” he denied ever making the comments, saying the remark was the result of “a little bit of a blurred word.”
“I looked at that, and I didn’t say that,” Santorum told O’Reilly. “If you look at it, what I started to say is a word and then sort of changed and it sort of — blah — came out. And people said I said ‘black.’ I didn’t.”
The GOP hopeful touted his past help of black colleges to further defend himself against criticism over the claims.
“And I can tell you, I don’t use — I don’t — first off, I don’t use the term ‘black’ very often. I use the term ‘African-American’ more than I use ‘black,” Santorum said. “I can tell you as someone who did more work for historically black colleges, I used to have — every year, I used to bring all the historically black colleges into Washington, DC to try to help them, because they get very little federal money through the bureaucracy, and so I help to try to introduce them to people in the Department of Education so they could have more resources.”
Santorum also got defensive over his presidential run less than a day after he took a close second place at the 2012 Iowa Caucuses, saying this campaign “isn’t my first rodeo.”
“I’ve been in a lot of tough campaigns in Pennsylvania,” Santorum said when asked if he is “ready to be demonized.”
“We’re going to have resources,” Santorum said. “We’re going to be a much bigger player than I think everybody anticipates right now.”
When he returns Wednesday afternoon, expect a different tone.
The Cleveland-area visit, which the White House bills as remarks on the economy, is likely to present Obama in a new, election-year narrative. Where he once sought compromise, Obama now aims to distance himself from a Congress with historically low approval ratings.
“In terms of the president’s relationship with Congress in 2012 . . . the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.,” a deputy press secretary told reporters for the New York Times and Washington Post during a briefing in Hawaii, where Obama was vacationing last week.
Signs of the shift became apparent before Christmas when the Democratic-controlled Senate approved a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut set to expire Jan. 1. House Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, balked at the deal and called for a full-year extension.
With senators already on holiday recess, Obama and fellow Democrats cast the Republicans’ unwillingness to forge a short-term deal as a willingness to raise taxes. On Dec. 22, the House GOP agreed to the two-month extension, handing a political victory to the president.
Further elevating the political stakes of Wednesday’s speech is the fact Obama will deliver it hours after the Iowa caucuses, the first Republican presidential nominating contest.
Obama is scheduled to speak at 1:15 p.m. Beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, free tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the school district’s administration building on Parkland Drive.
Ohio, which holds its primary March 6, remains a state key to winning in November; the Shaker Heights visit will be Obama’s 16th to the Buckeye State since taking office in January 2009. Yet Obama’s poll numbers show he has a challenge ahead. In a Quinnipiac University survey last month, 55 percent of Ohioans disapproved of the president’s job performance.
Obama won here by four points in 2008 and saw promising signs last fall after a Democratic-backed coalition led the repeal of a labor law championed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. A week after the measure went down, Obama’s re-election campaign sent Vice President Joe Biden to Euclid to celebrate with firefighters and other unionized public employees.
But Republicans were equally encouraged by last fall’s vote on Issue 3, which delivered a strong rebuke to Obama’s health care plan and passed by a greater margin than the labor law failed. On Monday, upon hearing where Obama would speak Wednesday, those Republicans were quick to recall what he discussed the last time he visited Shaker Heights High School.
A Republican National Committee spokesman emailed reporters a link to a story about the Issue 3 vote. And Ohio GOP spokesman Christopher Maloney criticized Obama for holding “political pep rallies and swing-state speeches that don’t create jobs.”
Via email, Maloney added: “The students at Shaker Heights High School and all Ohio families deserve a president who will place their needs and opportunities for a brighter future, before the focus of his own re-election.”