/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Outside of his campaign, few people think he is a threat to win the Republican nomination for president.
And yet, Texas Congressman Ron Paul has pulled in a big chunk of the votes in both states where Republicans have voted on potential nominees.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican U.S. presidential primary on Tuesday by a comfortable margin – his second straight victory in the race to become his party’s choice to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama on November 6.
Based on early returns with about 10 percent of the vote counted, U.S. television networks declared Romney the victor. With about 15 percent of the vote counted, the networks said Romney had won 36 percent of the vote with congressman Ron Paul in second with 25 percent.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – Mitt Romney is poised to take a big step toward the Republican U.S. presidential nomination on Tuesday by capturing New Hampshire, hoping to ride out last-minute attacks from his rivals and recover from a self-inflicted wound.
The former governor of neighboring Massachusetts carried a sizeable lead in polls into voting day, a sufficient cushion that should force rivals Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum into a battle for second place.
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – On the cusp of a widely expected victory in New Hampshire, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney struggled to repel attacks on his business record on Monday as rivals in the U.S. presidential race tried to weaken him before a tighter vote in South Carolina.
The former venture capitalist did himself no favors in the homestretch to Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary with remarks that sounded like he enjoyed firing people – and rivals were quick to seize on his choice of words.
Newt Gingrich took a break from attacking Mitt Romney today to visit with workers at defense contractor BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., where he spent much of his stump speech praising the importance of technology and the military. To illustrate his point, he described a problem special forces soldiers found themselves in after being airlifted into Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
When they first got there and started meeting, the Northern Alliance said: ‘We’ll ride in the morning.’ And our guys stared at them, and they said: “What do you mean, we’ll ride in the morning?” And they said we’re going on horseback. So it turned out that the special forces field uniforms have very large inseams which when you ride a horse create a real problem. And they immediately realized that this is going to be physically painful. So they got on the sat phone, called home and found out that if you got extra large, super heavy pantyhose, that three pair provided a buffer when you were riding a horse.”
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) – On the cusp of a widely expected victory in New Hampshire, Republican front-runner Mitt Romney fought to repel attacks on his business record on Monday as rivals in the presidential race tried to weaken him before a tighter vote in South Carolina.
Romney was ahead more than 20 points before Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary, even though polls early Monday showed a slight erosion in his lead over his nearest rivals. Libertarian Ron Paul retained the No. 2 spot, while former Utah governor and moderate Jon Huntsman and social conservative Rick Santorum made gains.
Tensions were high at Ron Paul’s first campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire, today, a day before the state votes in its first-in-the-nation Republican primary. At a breakfast visit to Moe Joe’s Family Restaurant, few actual primary voters were in attendance. Instead, the restaurant was packed with a group of a hundred high school students from Franklin, Massachusetts (hometown of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown), out-of-state activists from the nonpartisan Americans Elect, more than a hundred journalists, fringe candidate Vermin Supreme, and a convertible with two people in pig costumes promoting the website www.taxmeat.com.
It proved a combustible mix for a tiny space. Prior to Paul’s arrival, a teacher from the Massachusetts high school dressed down about four dozen journalists as if they’d been caught shooting spitballs or smoking in the bathroom. “You’re going to ruin it for all these kids,” he shouted.
Jon Huntsman Jr. has dedicated his entire campaign to doing well in New Hampshire. That’s meant multiple visits to small places like the northern town of Littleton, pop. 6,000, where Huntsman appeared for a photo opportunity at the local diner.
Unfortunately for Huntsman there were only four people (reporters aside) at the restaurant when he arrived — and none of them knew he was coming. One couple waved off his approach, saying, “We’re from Vermont.”
With less than a week until the New Hampshire primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spent a full day campaigning in the state’s lightly populated North Country. While there he opened his stump speech by jumping into a local controversy over a proposed $1.1 billion plan to build a giant transmission line from the Canadian border to southern New Hampshire.
The plan, known as the Northern Pass, would connect a Quebec electricity producer with the population centers of southern New England. The plan is controversial in northern New Hampshire, which is heavily reliant on tourism, because it involves the construction of 120-foot-high towers through pristine parts of the White Mountain National Forest and surrounding forests.
In a tight campaign, even the smallest bit of good news counts. Ron Paul’s campaign is claiming three recent newspaper endorsements in New Hampshire’s scarcely populated “north country.” A local newspaper chain that owns weeklies in Littleton (pop. 6,000), Lancaster (pop. 3,300) and Berlin (pop. 9,300) decided to back the Texan following his third place finish in Iowa.
“[Paul's] prediction that the United States can no longer afford the economic cost of our overseas commitments makes many Republicans uncomfortable, possibly by the very truth of the assertion,” the editors of the Salmon Press wrote.