Romney the clear front-runner after sweeping to victory in New Hampshire


Manchester, New Hampshire

Mitt Romney, trying for a second time around to make it all the way to his party’s presidential nod and thereafter to the White House, swept to victory in the New Hampshire primary yesterday; a win that makes him the clear front-runner going into the next nominating contests.

Mr Romney took 39 per cent of the vote, thus becoming the first Republican who is not a White House incumbent to win both Iowa and New Hampshire in a party nomination contest.

It was a big night meanwhile for Ron Paul, whose conservative libertarianism, including an isolationist foreign policy and a transfer of powers from the federal to states level, brought him to a decent second place here with 23 per cent of the votes. It will be probably be his high watermark, however.

More problematic is the position of Jon Huntsman, the moderate former Utah governor, who came third with 17 per cent.  Supporters had been hoping he would lift off belatedly by placing a good second.

Mr Huntsman declared at his victory rally that he had a “ticket to ride” into South Carolina which votes on 21 January and thereafter into Florida.  However he is polling very poorly in both states. “Huntsman is really fooling himself,” declared Larry Sabato, the directly of political studies at the University of Virginia.

Mr Romney, who looks more and more like the ‘competent candidate’, delivered a confident but oddly clipped victory speech which turned in part on how he intended to stop Mr Obama from allowing America to become like Europe. “Today, we are faced with the disappointing record of a failed President,” he said.  “The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t offered much hope.”

The president, Mr Romney said, “wants to turn America into a European-style entitlement society.  We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity. This President takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe; we look to the cities and small towns of America.”

Mr Obama’s love of contrasting Europe with what he expects of America is a key theme of his campaign, born out of a desire to link Mr Obama in voters’ minds with the travails of Greece and Italy.  It is “because Europe in the eyes of Americans has lost its way and can’t get out of its own way in terms of the economy,” former White House Chief of Staff and Romney supporter, John Sununu, told the Independent.

For all the celebrating in Camp Romney last night, the mudslinging that marked the last hours of the race, most of it aimed at him, is set only to get fiercer as the focus shifts to South Carolina, a state likely to be less friendly to the moderate-leaning former Governor of Massachusetts.

Over recent days, he was bombarded by his rivals for his role as chief executive of the private-equity firm Bain Capital and ridiculed for saying he “likes” to fire people. Even as he held a baby in a throng outside a polling station yesterday, a person in the crowed yelled: “Are you going to fire the baby, too?”

Due to touch down in Columbia, South Carolina, later today, Mr Romney will be met by a blast of hostile advertising put together at a cost of $3.4m (£2.2m) by an independent group supporting one of his rivals, Newt Gingrich.

The expected Gingrich barrage includes a spot attacking Mr Romney for allegedly shifting positions on abortion. “What happened after Massachusetts moderate Mitt Romney changed his pro-abortion position to pro-life? He governed pro-abortion,” an announcer says. “He can’t be trusted.”

Mr Gingrich scored a disappointing fourth place. That left Rick Santorum, the close runner up in Iowa, in fifth slot.  Both men were striving to emerge as the best conservative alternative Mr Romney.  Campaigning hard in South Carolina but barely noticed in New Hampshire is Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Yesterday, Mr Gingrich defended his aggressiveness on Mr Romney. “If somebody’s going to crumble, they better crumble before the nomination,” Mr Gingrich said, a day after bluntly accusing Mr Romney of “looting” companies at Bain. “Is capitalism really about the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of other people and walk off with the money?”  At a South Carolina rally, a blustering Mr Perry branded people working for Bain as “vultures”.

New Hampshire will be an important swing state in the general election later this year and the bloodletting here was seen as a boon for President Barack Obama. While it was a given that Democrats would go after Mr Romney for his years at Bain and portray him as a corporate villain, few expected that members of his own party would take the same seemingly anti-capitalist tack.

It was a shift that did not sit well with Mr Romney’s supporters. “It bothers me that people don’t have their facts straight about how our economy actually works and what it takes to make companies profitable,” said Sam Gangwer, 46, a property manager who attended a final Romney rally in Bedford, New Hampshire. “Everyone has to survive and companies survive with proper management.”

Also awaiting Mr Romney in South Carolina is a 27-minute documentary purchased by the pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future political committee. The piece is about four companies that were bought by Bain Capital under Mr Romney’s watch and then closed down at cost of hundreds of jobs.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions