Romney wins key US vote, blasts Obama

2012-01-11 07:44
Manchester - Mitt Romney stormed on Tuesday to a commanding win in New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary, making him the clear favourite to take on President Barack Obama in November.

The former Massachusetts governor and millionaire venture capitalist immediately looked to South Carolina's January 21 primary, hoping a victory there and in Florida on January 31 could effectively anoint him the nominee.

Obama "has run out of ideas. 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", he declared.

Public opinion polls showed Romney leading his more conservative rivals in both of the next battlegrounds - large states where his well-oiled, well-funded campaign machine could roll up the opposition.

Based on partial results, Romney was set to win here easily - the first time since 1976 that a Republican candidate who is not an incumbent president won this contest and the Iowa caucuses that precede it.

With 83% of the ballots counted, Romney was storming to victory with some 39% of the vote.

After surviving a furious 11th-hour onslaught from his Republican rivals, who tarred him as a callous corporate raider who put people out of work, Romney defiantly trumpeted his business experience as his number-one asset.

"Make no mistake, in this campaign, I will offer the American ideals of economic freedom a clear and unapologetic defence," said Romney.

Sagging US economy

Romney has insisted that his private sector triumphs make him the best person to take on Obama, whose re-election bid is weighed down by the sagging US economy and high unemployment.

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", he declared.

"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," said Romney.

Veteran Representative Ron Paul of Texas, a small-government champion whose opposition to overseas military interventions has rankled the party's establishment, was expected to come in second with around 23%.

"We're nibbling at his heels!" Paul told a rowdy crowd of supporters, who chanted "President Paul!"

"We have had a victory for the cause of liberty tonight," he said.

Former US envoy to China Jon Huntsman, who bet his political fortunes on a strong showing here, was on track to come in third with around 17%, after a late surge tied to a strong weekend debate performance and a new-found combativeness.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I think we're in the hunt!" he said at a rally. "I'd say third place is a ticket to ride!"

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich was in fourth place at 10%, with Christian conservative former senator Rick Santorum close behind at nine percent.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who skipped New Hampshire to go directly to South Carolina, clung to 1%.

Daunting challenge

"We're going to go on to South Carolina," vowed Santorum.

Gingrich also pledged to fight on in South Carolina, acknowledging the "daunting challenge" ahead but saying, "I will do everything I can to win the opportunity to represent you this fall in debating and then defeating Barack Obama".

At Gingrich's sparsely attended and subdued post-primary party, his supporters openly expressed disappointment.

"I hope he goes on to do well in South Carolina. I don't know if he can go on a lot longer. It may be Mitt all the way. But you never know," said Gail Gorham, 73, a retired homemaker from Derry.

"I don't think Mitt will do well in the South," said Linda Dupree, 64, a manufacturing worker from Campton. "Just because Romney won two states doesn't mean the whole thing is over."

A vast campaign war chest and high-profile endorsements have fed Romney's image as the man to beat, but he faces stubborn doubts about his conservative credentials and has been unable to push his nationwide Republican support above 30%.

In South Carolina, Romney may face stiff resistance from conservatives who think he is a flip-flopper and from evangelical Christians wary of his Mormon faith, but he also has the backing of Governor Nikki Haley.

The mood at Romney's rally was exuberant, and the normally stiff candidate even allowed himself a moment to dance as his supporters sang along to Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline".

Obama meanwhile faced no serious competition in the Democratic primaries here - his slate of 13 rivals included Craig 'Tax Freeze' Freis and Vermin Supreme, an eccentric who spent the last few days going to Republican rallies and heckling the candidates with a bullhorn.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  mitt romney  |  us  |  us elections 2012

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Hostages safe in Paris

2016-12-02 22:36

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.