Mitt Romney Wins New Hampshire

We blogged the last-minute salvos as the Granite State headed to the polls and the results came in.

10:38 p.m. A couple of quick thoughts on the race:

    1) Times have changed enough that it now is possible to be too anti-gay for even a GOP presidential primary contest. The young let-us-alone brigades who backed Paul also blocked Santorum's ascent in New Hampshire.
    2) It was a very good night for Mormons running for president, with Romney and Huntsman taking first and third in the state, and later making remarks alongside large, good-looking and prosperous families, who will help any barriers left for Mormons in public life fall.
    3) New Hampshire pollsters did a commendable job in a notoriously hard to poll state; there were no major surprises, for a change.
    4) For all the early chatter about the GOP's field of far-right candidates, the race in the end took some surprisingly liberal turns, with voters handing the victory in both Iowa and N.H. to a Massachusetts moderate (or former moderate, at any rate) whose career has now sparked a debate within the GOP about the moral worthiness of financial sector work.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I bid you good night.

10:01 p.m. Everyone's staying in, it seems. In speeches following Romney's tonight, Ron Paul (No. 2 finisher), Jon Hunstman (No. 3) and Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum (still trading votes between 4th and 5th) all indicated they would stay in the race and continue to fight in South Carolina, which holds its primary January 21. Paul gave a long series of remarks to a wildly enthusiastic audience that broke out into chant of "revolution!", discoursing widely on liberty, the Federal Reserve, monetary policy, inflation, and intellectual diversity. Huntsman, for his part, was oddly ebullient, declaring: "Ladies and gentlemen I think we're in the hunt...third place is a ticket to ride." Santorum was downcast, but pointed out that he'd doubled or tripled his poll numbers in the state since winning the Iowa caucuses. And Gingrich was unapologetic for his attacks on Romney, which have opened a rift within the Republican party over how to talk about unfettered free-market capitalism and the financial sector. All vowed to press on.

8:40 p.m. Mitt to N.H.: "You're the best!" A beaming Mitt Romney just finished addressing his supporters in New Hampshire, clearly savoring the win as they chanted "Mitt Mitt Mitt" and hooted their joy, but wasting no time in resuming his relentless critique of President Obama in words honed on the stump across multiple states.

"Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we go back to work," Romney said. But his speech saw him eager to go back to work immediately as he quickly shifted into a general election attack. "Today we're faced with the disappointing record of a failed president," he said, pointing to Obama's comment on the economy that "it could be worse." "It could be worse?! That's not what it means to be an American, it could be worse," Romney said. "What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that it must be better and it will be better....Americans know that our future is brighter and better than these troubled times....We still believe in the hope the promise and the dream of America."

"The president has run out of ideas, now he's running out of excuses," Romney said, as the crowd again burst out with cries of Mitt Mitt Mitt Mitt. A smile crept across his face. "Tonight were asking the good people of South Carolina to join the people of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year he runs out of time."

Romney nodded toward the critiques of his tenure at Bain Capital coming from other Republicans, but turned even that into a critique of the president. "President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial and in the last few days we've seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him," Romney said. This was "such a mistake for our party." He urged Americans to be "lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by our envy of success" and to celebrate the core values that unite the nation.

He closed by thanking New Hampshire for the victory that eluded him four years ago -- "You're the best!" -- and turned away from the cameras to his assembled family.

8:22 p.m. A solid second for Paul. CNN is now projecting that Ron Paul will come in second in N.H. and Jon Huntsman will come in third.

8:18 p.m. Huntsman staying in. Now in third place behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in the New Hampshire voting, Jon Huntsman tells CNN he will not be dropping out of the race: "There are at least three tickets out of New Hampshire." His campaign will go on to South Carolina and is in "a solid, comfortable, confident position," he said.

8:02 p.m. Going negative on Newt. The Wall Street Journal helps unpack why Gingrich is in such need of outside group aid in seeking to fend off the Romney-leaning SuperPAC ads: "96% of Negative Super PAC Spending Since Iowa Has Targeted Gingrich."

8:00 pm. Romney wins. CNN has waited until the polls are all closed to make the call and is now predicting that Mitt Romney is the winner of the New Hampshire primary.

7:46 p.m. County-by-county results. Google is mapping the votes as they come in.

7:27 p.m. The very early results. With 1 percent of the vote in, it's Romney-Paul-Huntsman, according to CNN.

Presented by

Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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