The ex-governor also lands in first place in New Hampshire with just under 40 percent of the vote. But the Republican candidacy has not yet been decided.
The winning pose sits: Mitt Romney. Picture: reuters
Mitt Romney is the clear winner of the Republican primaries in the northeastern US state of New Hampshire. He received 39 percent of the vote on Tuesday, becoming the first politician in history to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. But despite that double victory, the Republican nominee race is far from decided. For behind the top man follow five other candidates, some of whom are investing more energy in dismantling their rival and party colleague Romney than in criticizing Democratic President Barack Obama. For now, none of them want to drop out of the race, which is still going on in 48 other states.
Texas Libertarian Ron Paul became the second Republican to prove his strength with the base on Tuesday. After coming in third in Iowa a week earlier, Paul rose to number two in New Hampshire with 23 percent. "Our intellectual revolution is unstoppable," said the 76-year-old candidate, who has a highly mobilized following, especially among young men, including many war veterans.
Paul, who proposes the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the rest of the world and the abolition of the Federal Reserve, at the same time touts a shrunken central state, the elimination of most government welfare benefits and radical tax cuts. A gynecologist and opponent of abortion, he has been promoting his ideas for a quarter century. In the current pre-election campaign, which is accompanied by deep fault lines within the Republicans between the radicalized base and the old party establishment, he is achieving his greatest successes to date. If this emwindment continues, Paul’s delegates could tip the scales in the Republican nomination race this summer.
Ticket to continue journey
In theory, Paul would also have the option of entering the presidential race as a third candidate – outside the party. That could cost the official Republican nominee victory.
Also symptomatic of the state of the Republican Party is the performance of Jon Huntsman in New Hampshire. The moderate Republican, who was most recently U.S. ambassador to China, finished in third place with 17 percent. In a euphoric speech, Huntsman advocated immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. In all other respects he differs from Paul. Huntsman does not want to abolish the institutions of the central state, but to restore the trust in them that has been destroyed.
After months of campaigning in New Hampshire, Huntsman probably reached his zenith in this campaign Tuesday. But he is announcing that he plans to continue in South Carolina. "Third place is a ticket to keep going," he said.
Not wanting to give up, either, are the three men who finished in the back of the pack in New Hampshire: Fundamentalist Catholic Rick Santorum, who finished a close second to Romney in Iowa, and Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and former adviser to Freddie Mac, the real estate bank that was partly responsible for the speculative bubble of 2008, both got nine and 10 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, respectively. Texas Governor Rick Perry follows in sixth place. Gingrich and Perry have already criticized Romney’s business dealings during the New Hampshire campaign. Perry accuses the Republican frontrunner of "vulture capitalism." Gingrich speaks of Romney’s "predatory business methods." In a 28-minute film, Gingrich’s campaign attacks Romney as an "unscrupulous rich man" who has contributed to the "greatest job destruction since World War II."
As general manager of the private equity firm "Bain Capital LLC," Romney destroyed jobs at numerous companies in risky investments.
South Carolina much more conservative
The next Republican primaries are Jan. 21 in South Carolina and ten days later in Florida. Polls see Romney ahead in both polls.
But South Carolina is much more conservative than New Hampshire. The state is largely union-free, and fundamentalist evangelical Christians form a strong lobby there. And it is unpredictable how they will respond to the fundamentalist campaigns of Romney’s challengers.
All candidates have full campaign coffers. In advertisements and films, several of them have already taken a shot at Romney in South Carolina as well. The frontrunner himself is focusing on attacks against Barack Obama, whom he calls a "one-term president." During his victory speech in New Hampshiere, Romney said, "The president has run out of ideas. Now he is running out of excuses." Former George W. Bush staffer and right-wing thought leader Karl Rove said: , "Romney still has a long way to go".