Mitt Romney handily won Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, his second victory in two weeks. The former Massachusetts governor is the first Republican, aside from a sitting president, to win the first two primary contests since 1976. Texas Rep. Ron Paul is projected to win second place, followed by Jon Huntsman.
“Tonight we made history,” Romney said. “Tonight we celebrate; tomorrow we go back to work.”
Romney’s win was no surprise. He owns a home in New Hampshire and was the governor of a neighboring state. In addition, he built the strongest organization of all the GOP candidates and won endorsements from several local political leaders, which enabled him to hold a significant lead in the state for months. But as the race moves to South Carolina, which holds its primary on Jan. 21, Romney will have to work harder for his next victory.
The Southern state’s electorate is much more socially conservative than New Hampshire’s and includes a large bloc of evangelical Christians who view Romney’s Mormon faith with deep suspicion. He also faces a barrage of negative advertising from his rivals who will paint him as a heartless corporate raider who kills jobs and cares little about the struggles of ordinary Americans.
But Romney is already talking like he’s got the nomination all wrapped up, and took aim Tuesday night at both his rivals who’ve harshly criticized his tenure as president of the private equity firm Bain Capital and President Obama.
“President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our party and for our nation,” Romney said. “This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.”
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