Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire primary | Live updates
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney made history in New Hampshire Tuesday night, becoming the first non-incumbent GOP candidate since 1976 to win both the Iowa caucuses and the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary.
Romney’s New Hampshire victory -- with 65 percent of precincts reporting, he stood at 38 percent of the vote -- puts him in a commanding position ahead of South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary. It also represents a blow to the campaign-trail aspirations of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (R), who had staked his candidacy on a strong New Hampshire showing only to come in third behind Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
Below is our play-by-play of the latest on today’s primary; refresh this page in your browser for the latest updates.
» New Hampshire primary: full results, exit polls
» Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire Republican primary
» Romney may face lasting damage after New Hampshire
» Conservative activists scramble for South Carolina strategy
» The Fix: Why South Carolina matters
» She the People: Does Perry have a prayer in S.C.?
» #FixChat: New Hampshire recap with Chris Cillizza
11 p.m. | Huntsman: 'We're in the hunt'
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was upbeat after his third place finish in the New Hampshire primaries.
“We’re in the hunt!” he told a crowd of supporters in Manchester. ”I’d say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentlemen!”
Huntsman has 17 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, the state where he focused his campaign efforts. He said prior to his speech he would continue his campaign in South Carolina.
10:55 p.m. | Senate Dems hit Romney for strapping dog to car roof
No sooner was Mitt Romney declared the winner of the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night than Democrats sent out a fundraising e-mail pummeling the former Massachusetts governor’s record on jobs, taxes ... and strapping the family dog to the roof of his car.
In an e-mail under the subject line “Car roof,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil seized on the now-infamous tale of a Romney vacation nearly 30 years ago, during which the former governor put his family’s Irish setter, Seamus, into a dog carrier and strapped it onto the roof rack of a station wagon for a 12-hour trip to Canada.
The e-mail, which also takes aim at campaign-trail remarks Romney has made in recent weeks, reads: “Mitt Romney. Who likes ‘being able to fire people.’ Who said ‘corporations are people.’ Who laid off thousands and shipped jobs overseas. Who forced the family dog to ride on the car roof for a twelve-hour drive!”
Fresh off his New Hampshire win, Team Romney was likely expecting ramped-up attacks from national Democrats. But an attack along these lines may not have been what they imagined.
10:20 p.m. | Update: Gingrich and Santorum nearly tied for 4th
With 70 percent of precincts reporting, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are in a dead heat for fourth place with 10 percent of votes. Gingrich is ahead of Santorum by fewer than 100 votes.
Compared to the relatively small amount of money spent on advertisements in New Hampshire, Santorum’s campaign manager told reporters that the campaign will be putting $1 million into South Carolina media in the hope of boosting numbers there.
10:20 p.m. | Jim DeMint: Romney could win South Carolina
Can Mitt Romney win South Carolina?
Sen. Jim DeMint, the influential Palmetto State Republican, says the answer is yes.
“I think Romney’s going to win here,” DeMint said in an interview posted on The Right Scoop, a conservative Web site. “I think some of the others who might’ve had some advantage here have really crossed ways with some Republicans as they criticized free-enterprise concepts. I think you might see Mitt Romney win here, but it’s possible that Gingrich or Santorum might make another run at it here. I just don’t know.”
The mention by DeMint of “free-enterprise concepts” was a reference to most of the GOP field’s criticism in recent days of Romney’s record at the helm of Bain Capital, which he led until the mid-1990s.
DeMint added that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been “spending some time” in South Carolina but “doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of traction, and I think after Iowa and New Hampshire it’s going to be tough.”
“But I’ve been surprised before,” he said. “I’m going to work on the Senate races and let South Carolina decide for itself.”
10:20 p.m. | Turnout higher than in 2008
Edison Media Research estimates 250,000 Republicans and independents voted Tuesday in New Hampshire, up from 241,000 in 2008.
9:44 p.m. | Missing from Huntsman speech? Jon2012girls.
Jon Huntsman said that his solid third place standing in New Hampshire was a “ticket to ride,” and that he is ready to greet waiting South Carolinians. But what was missing from his enthusiastic remarks about his campaign remaining “in the Hunt?” Cut-aways to his comedic, and enthusiastic daughters, playfully known as the Jon2012girls.
Following their father’s speech, the @Jon2012girls tweeted:
“So proud of our Dad and the whole campaign! On to the next chapter, South Carolina!”
9:55 p.m. | Romney's win creates spike on @MentionMachine
But Romney could be back on top in another hour if he repeats his mentions total from the last hour. He was mentoned 14,795 times between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The top (most retweeted) tweet about him was this one:
9:40 p.m. | Ron Paul: Freedom, liberty ... and danger
Ron Paul delivered his primary-night address shortly after Mitt Romney’s – and it sounded every bit as much the victory speech as the former Massachusetts governor’s, a sign of the Paul campaign’s confidence heading into the next contests despite his second-place finish.
In 13-minute remarks delivered apparently sans-teleprompter, Paul used the words “liberty,” “freedom” and – most interestingly – “danger” more times than we could count.
He told his supporters at the Executive Court Banquet Facility in Manchester that he had called Romney to congratulate him and then declared: “We’re nibbling at his heels!”
He thanked the New Hampshire Union Leader for not endorsing his bid. The influential conservative paper had backed former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who is currently battling with former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) for fourth place in the polls.
And he had a message for his GOP rivals, many of whom have decried his bid as “dangerous”: You’re right.
“We’re dangerous to the status quo! ... We will remain a danger to the Federal Reserve system as well,” Paul said.
As he did after his third-place finish in Iowa, Paul used his New Hampshire speech to drive home the points he has long made a central part of his bid – bringing down the debt, bringing the troops home and bringing libertarian ideas front-and-center in the GOP primary.
“Right now, it is this liberty movement, which is seen as a patriotic movement ... that is saying to the country and to the world, ‘We’ve had enough of sending our kids and our money around the world to be the policemen of the world. It’s time to bring them home,’” Paul said, to cheers of “bring them home!” from the crowd.
In an e-mail to reporters, Paul’s campaign made the case that the race “is becoming more clearly a two-man race between establishment candidate Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, the candidate of authentic change.”
“That means there is only one true conservative choice. Ron Paul has won more votes in Iowa and New Hampshire than any candidate but Mitt Romney,” Paul national campaign chairman Jesse Benton said.
He added: “Ron Paul is in this race for the long haul. And he is ready to fight.”
9:35 p.m. | Exit Polls Update: Ron Paul has more votes than Santorum, Gingrich combined
Ron Paul has a total of 22,476 votes with 48 percent of precincts reporting. That is 3,465 more votes than Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined. Jon Huntsman is holding strong in third with 17 percent.
Despite strong momentum from Iowa, Santorum’s messages didn’t resonate as well in New Hampshire, making some wonder why he didn’t skip the Granite State and head to South Carolina.
9 p.m. | Romney's New Hampshire speech is focused on one person: Obama
Mitt Romney delivered a primary-night speech to supporters at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester that was particularly notable in one respect: it was focused almost exclusively on President Obama.
“The president has run out of ideas,” Romney said. “Now, he’s running out of excuses. And tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time.”
Romney mentioned Obama by name five times in the speech, and he used the word “promise” seven times (i.e., the ones he argues Obama has broken over the past four years).
There were five mentions of “freedom” or “free,” three of “Europe,” two mentions of “apologize” and two of “failed.”
At a grand total of zero mentions: Romney’s five GOP primary opponents.
8:50 p.m. | Update Exit Polls: Young people voted for Paul, Huntsman wins Democrats
Romney has taken the majority of votes in New Hampshire, but Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman are favorites among a few specific demographic groups. According to exit polling conducted by Edison Research, 46 percent of voters between the ages of 17 and 29 cast ballots for Ron Paul. Paul also attracted first-time primary voters, with 37 percent, and those who did not identify with a religion, 48 percent.
Jon Huntsman was more popular with voters who identified as Democrats, with 41 percent of those reporting.
8:50 p.m. | Romney's victory speech, a recap in tweets
@shiraschoenberg Shira Schoenberg Romney delivers victory speech: "Tonight, we made history!"
@jonward11 Romney: Remember when White House "reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what europe has become."
@2chambers: "This president puts his faith in gov't. We put our faith in the American people." Romney, to rousing applause
8:35 p.m. | Ron Paul places second; Huntsman to S.C.
Ron Paul has placed second in the New Hampshire primary, multiple networks are projecting. That means Jon Huntsman – who has staked his bid on the Granite State – comes in third.
In an interview with CNN, Huntsman says he’s staying in the race.
“Where we stand right now is a solid, comfortable, confident position, and we go south from here,” Huntsman says.
8:35 p.m. | Behind the Numbers: How Romney won
The Post’s polling team – Jon Cohen, Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement – reports on how Mitt Romney won big in New Hampshire:
“According to preliminary network exit polls, New Hampshire voters focused heavily on the country’s still struggling economy. Fully six in 10 called the economy the top issue, and about seven in 10 expressed deep concern about its direction. Romney had a better than 2 to 1 edge over his closest rivals among economy voters.
The former Massachusetts governor’s strength in New Hampshire extended to the most conservative voters, a group that favored Rick Santorum in last week’s Iowa caucus. Among ‘very conservative’ voters Romney won about a third of voters to roughly a quarter for Santorum.
For Romney, 2012 brought a big improvement among the party base, winning nearly half of self-identified Republicans, up significantly from four years ago. He’s up too among those who see themselves as ‘somewhat conservative’ and moderate or liberal, making up for slippage among the most conservative voters.”
8:35 p.m. | Candidates address supporters after New Hampshire primary (Live video)
Mitt Romney spoke to supporters after winning the New Hampshire primary. We’ll carry live video of all the candidates’ speeches here in the same feed.
8 p.m. | Romney wins New Hampshire
The New Hampshire polls are closed, and we have a winner: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has taken first place in New Hampshire, the Associated Press and multiple TV networks report.
Just before polls closed at 8 p.m., the vote tally was standing at 36 percent for Romney, 25 percent for Paul and 16 percent for Huntsman, with 8.6 percent of precincts reporting.
7:50 p.m. | With 5 percent reporting, it's Romney-Paul-Huntsman
Nearly 5 percent of precincts are reporting, and here’s the vote count so far:
Mitt Romney is in first with 5,185 votes, or 37 percent. Ron Paul is in second with 3,486 votes, or 25 percent. And Jon Huntsman is in third with 2,087 votes, or 15 percent.
The results are from Hillsborough and Rockingham Counties, the two counties near the Massachusetts border that Romney won in 2008.
7:50 p.m. | Vermin Supreme involved in a scuffle at Santorum protest
Democratic presidential candidate Vermin Supreme, who sports a rain boot as a hat and has promised federally subsidized poniesin his administration, was caught in a scuffle between protesters and police and campaign aides outside a Rick Santorum campaign event in Manchester, N.H.
After the tussle in a parking garage, the crowd resumed its chant of “Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!” and “Bigots go home!” while Santorum made his way to a waiting vehicle.
7:20 p.m. | Exit poll roundup: McCain popularity wanes in N.H.
Different years, maybe different voters, but one big change in New Hampshire: John McCain is far less popular in the preliminary exit poll data than he was four years ago. In 2008, 75 percent of voters had favorable views of the Arizona senator; in the early data tonight, that number is just under six in 10.
Economic worry dominates
About seven in 10 New Hampshire voters are “very worried” about the national economy, nearly three times the number saying so four years ago before the financial crisis that tanked the economy. Barely more than one in eight says their families are “getting ahead” financially,” a slide from 2008. Fully two-thirds say they’re just holding steady.
N.H. less evangelical, conservative than Iowa
Preliminary exit polls show two groups that fueled Rick Santorum’s strong Iowa performance are -- as expected -- making up a much smaller portions of the New Hampshire electorate. Just under a quarter of primary voters are evangelical, compared with 57 percent of Iowa caucus-goers. And while nearly half of Iowa voters said their outlook on politics is “very conservative,” barely one in five New Hampshire voters say the same.
Deficit cuts over jobs
Asked whether the next president should prioritize slashing the deficit or creating jobs, roughly six in 10 primary voters favor slicing debt, according to preliminary exit polls. Fewer, about four in 10, say job creation should be the top priority. Still, somewhat fewer New Hampshire voters name the deficit as the top voting issue compared with Iowa caucus-goers last week. In preliminary results, a quarter of New Hampshire voters name the deficit, compared with about a third of Iowa caucus participants.
Importance of debates
Fully eight in 10 New Hampshire voters say candidate debates were important in their voter, with half saying they were “very important,” according to preliminary exit poll results.
7:20 p.m. | Romney camp, by the numbers
The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser reports:
Romney in NH by the numbers: 500k volunteer phone calls; 75k doors knocked; 35k yard signs distributed; 24 town halls
7:10 p.m. | Mashable Storifies social media use at the primary
Mashable’s Alex Fitzpatrick is sharing the best examples of social media use in the New Hampshire primary. Here are a few of his picks:
Scene outside Webster High School in Manchester NH instagr.am/p/gAYt-/— Jo Ling Kent (@JoNBCNews) January 10, 2012
See the full Storify here.
6:55 p.m. | Gingrich sets bar for Romney at 50 percent
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells CNN’s John King that if Romney wins less than 50 percent tonight, he’ll have a tough time making the argument that he’s the frontrunner for the nomination.
“The key question for Romney, who has bought a house here, lived here for years, campaigned here, was governor next door, ran for the U.S. Senate next door, you know, if he can’t break 50 percent in a state that is I think his third best state after Utah and Massachusetts, it’s going to be interesting to see how he makes the case that he is the presumptive frontrunner,” Gingrich said.
It’s a line that Gingrich – who’s trailing badly in the New Hampshire polls – has employed against Romney in recent days. The logic goes that even if Romney wins a plurality of New Hampshire voters in the six-candidate race, that means that he’ll have been rejected by a majority.
Gingrich made a similar case to Bloomberg TV on Monday. Here’s what he said:
“Right now the odds are that two out of three Republicans in New Hampshire are going to reject [Romney]. Three out of four rejected him in Iowa. But if two out of three reject him in a state that he lives in, that he has spent five years campaigning in, that he has been seen on television since 1994, I think that that makes him look like a very weak candidate going into the South and the West.”
The challenge of making Gingrich’s argument: if the former House speaker’s performance tonight is on par with recent polls, then he’ll have been rejected by more than 90 percent of New Hampshire primary voters. That’s not exactly an enviable position heading into the South Carolina race.
6:30 p.m. | A winner at 8 p.m.?
Brian Stelter of the New York Times tweets that first place in New Hampshire may be called as soon as the polls close at 8 p.m.:
Network execs privately say they expect to be able to call NH for Romney at 8pm sharp. The race for 2nd will take longer.— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 10, 2012
That doesn’t mean you should plan on turning off the TV, though. What matters just as much as the order of finish is the margin of victory. And the race for second and third will be just as pivotal in terms of the broader race for the nomination.
6:19 p.m. | Setting the stage for Mitt Romney
At Southern New Hampshire University, volunteers prepare the stage for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
— Melina Mara, Witness Politics
6:15 p.m. | Exit poll update: Most important issue: the economy
The economy is the No. 1 issue by a long shot in New Hampshire. About six in 10 voters in preliminary exit polls name it as most important, dwarfing the deficit, abortion or health care. So far, the economy is an even more dominant issue in New Hampshire than it was in the Iowa caucuses last week. Nearly seven in 10 New Hampshire voters say they are very worried about the national economy, even as the state’s 5.2 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country.
6:15 p.m. | Exit poll update: The most important candidate quality
About a third of voters prioritize beating President Obama over other candidate qualities, according to preliminary New Hampshire exit polling data. Electability edges out experience and character, with selecting a “true conservative” of somewhat lower importance.
6:15 p.m. | Exit poll update: Independents
Early exit numbers account don’t count evening voters, but so far, the electorate is shaping up to be more independent than in in Republican contests in 2008, 2000 or 1996. By party identification, nearly half of early voters say they identify as independents, with more than four in 10 of all voters officially registered as undeclared.
Fully four in 10 New Hampshire voters in the early exit poll say they’re “angry” about the policies of the Obama administration, with just as many “dissatisfied
6:10 p.m. | Huntsman: N.H. will be a 'market-moving event'
Two hours before the polls close in New Hampshire, former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) said that he believes the Granite State’s primary will be “a market-moving event” for his campaign.
“Our name recognition is low, predictably, because you need a market-moving event for people to begin paying attention to you,” Huntsman said when asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer how he expects to perform in the next primary state of South Carolina.
“And if all goes well tonight, as I think it will, then New Hampshire will be a market-moving event for us,” he added. “And as it moves downstream and then into South Carolina, where we hope to find ourselves tomorrow, people will begin paying attention to the new order of the universe, which will be much different than were thinking about it today. Why? Because the people of New Hampshire always tend to upend conventional wisdom.”
Huntsman, who polls show headed toward a second- or third-place finish tonight, noted that he “was in single digits about a week and a half ago, and so, the thought that there would be a surge next to the name ‘Huntsman’ is something altogether new that I’m trying to get my mind around.”
“It really is the result of a lot of diligent work on the ground,” he said of his uptick in the polls. “We have done this the old-fashioned New Hampshire way, and we’ll see tonight if that translates into something that really does prove the point that people in New Hampshire care about the candidate getting out and earning the vote and not taking it for granted.”
Asked about the recent candidate-on-candidate attacks, particularly those on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s record, Huntsman said that the kind of “internecine warfare” is not “altogether bad, because it really puts the candidate, the nominee-to-be, to the test.”
“All the information is brought out,” he said. “The arguments are made. The accusations are thrown out there. And then there has to be a discussion that follows, and I think there’s a process that actually makes the ultimate nominee a whole lot stronger.”
“What you’re seeing right now, poisonous as it might sound from time to time, is likely to make a stronger nominee, ultimately,” he told Blitzer.
Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re not the one under fire – something former House speaker Newt Gingrich has discovered in recent weeks.
5:35 p.m. | Where are the candidates holding their primary night events?
Here’s the rundown of where the GOP hopefuls will be tonight:
Mitt Romney hosts a primary-night party at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H.
Jon Huntsman host a primary-night party at The Black Brimmer in Manchester, N.H.
Ron Paul hosts a primary-night party at the Executive Court Banquet Facility in Manchester, N.H.
Newt Gingrich holds a primary-night party at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, N.H.
Rick Santorum hosts a primary-night party at the Derryfield Restaurant in Manchester, N.H.
The one candidate not in New Hampshire tonight: Rick Perry. He’s holding a 5:30 p.m. campaign event at Shealy’s BBQ in Leesville, S.C.
5:25 p.m. | Live Free or Die
A Ron Paul sign stands out on a lonely suburban street in Manchester.
— Melina Mara, Witness Politics
5:20 p.m. | Huntsmentum?
Alexander Howard posted on gov20.govfresh.com Monday about the uptick in coversation about him on Facebook:
So here’s the interesting data point ... social data from Facebook shows former Utah Governor John Huntsman is trending sharply upwards, much as former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum did before Iowa. Hunstman gained 1182 fans yesterday and, as of 7 PM EST tonight, more than 2000 fans, a 69% increase. The same is also true of people talking about him on Facebook, with some 8800 people on the 8th and approximately 11,0000 today, a 25% increase.
There are currently 13,329 people talking about Huntsman on his Facebook page. Twitter mentions of Huntsman are holding steady though; he has the fewest mentions of any of the candidates measured by @MentionMachine.
Twitter buzz foretold Rick Santorum’s finish last week. Huntsman’s finish tonight could setup an interesting comparison to his results.
5:15 p.m.: | Ron Paul expects No. 2 finish tonight; explains caucus-state strategy
Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether he expects to finish second tonight, Rep. Ron Paul doesn’t downplay expectations.
“I do,” Paul said. “I really expect to. But a real, real close third, I guess, is conceivable. But right now, I think the polls are holding up, and we’re pretty optimistic about tonight.”
Blitzer also asked Paul about his campaign’s suggestion on Sunday that it will focus its efforts on caucus states such as Nevada rather than on the primary state of Florida, which holds its nominating contest on Jan. 31.
“At the moment, we’re going to move on to the caucus states,” Paul said. “We’ve been a little bit concerned, of course, we get a lot of money in, but we spend it. And that’s why we’ve been doing well in Iowa and we expect to do well here tonight. So, it’s hard to commit to – you know, a candidate, our lead candidate [Mitt Romney] gets a lot of money from Goldman Sachs; he’s going to have a lot of money -- to run a campaign winner-take-all. There’s a little bit of logic to this. And besides, they gave up half their delegates. So they diminished their importance.”
(Paul was referring to the Republican National Committee’s decision to take away half of Florida’s delegates after the state disobeyed party rules by moving up its primary date.)
Paul’s response was notable for two reasons: He confirmed that he plans to largely bypass Florida, and he detailed a strategy not unlike the one that then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) employed four years ago against then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).
That strategy: run up big margins in caucus states which, although smaller in population and number of delegates, allow a candidate’s campaign to get more bang for the buck.
“We have to use strategy, and usually going the caucus, and going to the states where you get a proportion of the share, why not use common sense rather than going and spending a lot of money that might not bear fruit?” Paul told Blitzer.
Under new Republican Party rules, all states that hold their contests before April must award their delegates proportionally rather than by winner-take-all. (That’s similar to the 2008 Democratic race, in which all states used a proportional system.)
That means a big win by Paul in a caucus state would net him more delegates than a narrow victory in a big (and expensive) state such as Florida. As long as Paul is able to stay competitive in the big states, the thinking goes, his wins in caucus states could help him catch up to Romney.
Paul has already begun laying a groundwork in those states, but there remains a big problem for his campaign. Unlike in the 2008 Democratic primary, when Clinton’s campaign largely overlooked non-primary contests, Romney has a strong base of support in the caucus states.
4:55 p.m. | Exit poll preview
As we wait for our Behind the Numbers team to start parsing exit poll data, take a look at five key factors to watch for in the New Hampshire primary vote. And be sure to follow @PostPolls for live updates from our polling team throughout the evening.
4:27p.m. | A Portrait of Ron Paul
Ron Paul supporters are leaving their mark on Manchester in creative ways (see below). But will Paul’s faithful followers help him stay in the race to beat Mitt Romney? The Fix’s Chris Cillizza weighs in on why Paul is turning out to be Romney’s best friend.
4:05 p.m. | Instagramming New Hampshire with 2012Unfiltered
PostPolitics reporters and editors used the iPhone app Instagram and the hashtag #2012Unfiltered to compile behind-the-scenes photos fromthe week leading up to the New Hampshire primary.
Are you heading to a primary or watching the returns tonight? We’re compiling readers’ photos, too. Take photos using your iPhone and add the hashtag #2012unfiltered to the caption with a description. Details on how to participate are here.
4 p.m. | A Patriotic Pup
Dressed in a red white and blue hat and vest, Biscuit the patriotic dog is pushed down Elm Street in downtown Manchester.
— Melina Mara, Witness Politics
3:50 p.m. | Ron Paul defends Romney on 'fire people' remarks; says GOP contest now 'two-man race'
Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign is coming to Mitt Romney’s defense, one day after the former Massachusetts governor made headlines for his remark that he likes to “fire people” who don’t provide sufficient services.
At the same time, Paul’s camp is arguing that the contest for the GOP nod is now a “two-man race” in the wake of comments by former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) criticizing Romney for the remarks.
“Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be president and why this has become a two man national race between Mitt Romney, the candidate of the status quo, and Ron Paul, the candidate of real change,” Paul’s national campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, said in a statement.
“Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use ‘gotcha’ tactics to discredit us,” Benton said. “Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context.”
He added that the other GOP contenders are “using the language of the liberal left to attack private equity and condemn capitalism in a desperate and, frankly, unsavory attempt to tear down another Republican with tactics akin to those of MoveOn.org.”
Paul placed third in Iowa and polls show him coming in second in New Hampshire, although Huntsman has been gaining momentum in recent days.
3:05 p.m. | Gingrich sets his sights on South Carolina
New Hampshire’s polls don’t close for another five hours or so, but already things are looking ugly – not in the Granite State, but in South Carolina.
It’s there that former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is launching a brutal new ad against Mitt Romney, hitting the former Massachusetts governor for his record on abortion.
“What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his position from pro-abortion to pro-life?” the narrator of the ad asks. “He governed pro-abortion.”
As The Fix’s Rachel Weiner reports, Gingrich has purchased nearly $150,000 in South Carolina airtime this week – a considerable sum that could put a dent in Romney’s momentum coming out of New Hampshire.