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.

6:54 p.m. Does Romney really like to fire people? New York magazine's Dan Amira has a fun blog item up looking at "Who Has Mitt Romney Fired, and How Much Did He Like Doing It?" complete with a handy needle graphic.

6:41 p.m. Exit poll hints. Early exit polls are coming in, and show a surprisingly high percentage of independent voters -- 44 percent -- in the contest, with Mitt Romney "narrowly leading among that vital voting bloc," according to Fox News. Also, that voters in N.H. have more money than voters did in Iowa.

6:29 p.m. More about that anti-Romney video. Former Atlantic senior editor Joshua Green took a gander at "When Mitt Romney Came to Town," the film purchased by the Gingrich-leaning Super PAC Winning Our Future for airing, in some form, in South Carolina. His observations: "The film focuses on four companies acquired by Bain that later suffered difficulties or filed for bankruptcy -- UniMac Corp., KB Toys, America Pad & Paper or Ampad, and DDI Corp. (DDIC), an electronics company....[an interview with a] purportedly fired worker is juxtaposed with a clip of Romney saying, 'For an economy to thrive, there are a lot of people who will suffer as a result of that.'....A woman is shown claiming that Romney has '15 homes,' although recent public reports indicate that Romney currently has three homes. Twice in the film, Romney is also shown speaking in French. The two-time presidential aspirant was a Mormon missionary in France as a young man."

4:33 p.m. Bill Kristol is skeptical of Bain's defenders. "If this is where some in the conservative movement and the Republican party are inclined to go--four cheers for finance capitalism!--good luck. Indeed, it's useful to flush out this tendency now, and subject it to debate. Because it's a recipe for political disaster--and intellectual sterility," he writes in The Weekly Standard.

"Post 2008, capitalism needs its strong defenders--but its defenders need also to be its constructive critics. The Tea Party was right. What's needed is a critique of Big Government above all, but also of Big Business and Big Finance and Big Labor (and Big Education and Big Media and all the rest)--and especially a critique of all those occasions when one or more of these institutions conspire against the common good."

3:45 p.m. GOP not well positioned on decrying capitalism. Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich raises a note of skepticism in Salon when it comes to the Romney critics: "I'm all in favor of reforming capitalism, but you'll permit me some skepticism when it comes to criticisms of Bain Capital coming from Romney's Republican opponents. None of these Republican candidates has exactly distinguished himself with new ideas for giving Americans more economic security. To the contrary -- until the assault on Romney and Bain Capital -- every one of them has been a cheerleader for financial capitalism of the most brutal sort."

3:40 p.m. That pro-Romney PAC has spent at least $7 million so far. Reports NBC: "Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney's presidential bid, has placed a new $1.7 ad buy in Florida, bringing its total spending to $7 million and counting, according to Smart Media Group Delta, the ad-tracking firm partnering with NBC News. By comparison, the well-financed Romney campaign so far has spent just $5.5 million in advertising." Little wonder Newt Gingrich is so mad.

3:35 p.m. Ron Paul's campaign defends Mitt Romney. Paul campaign national chairman Jesse Benton decries the pile-on over Romney's firing people comment. "Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are once again proving why they are unfit to be President and why this has become a two man national race between Mitt Romney, the candidate of the status quo, and Ron Paul, the candidate of real change," Benton said in a statement.

"Two important issues that should unite Republicans are a belief in free markets and an understanding that the media often use 'gotcha' tactics to discredit us. Rather than run against Governor Romney on the issues of the day Santorum, Huntsman, and Gingrich have chosen to play along with the media elites and exploit a quote taken horribly out of context. They are also using the language of the liberal left to attack private equity and condemn capitalism in a desperate and, frankly, unsavory attempt to tear down another Republican with tactics akin to those of"

For more on how the attacks on Romney's business background and that quote are being greeted by free-market conservatives, see David A. Graham's story today, "How Gingrich's Attack on Romney and Bain Backfired, Part II."

2:22 p.m. Ouch. Santorum, reflecting on how his upbringing is different than Romney's: "the nuns beat my knuckles bare."

1:58 p.m. No, you're fired. The DNC has released a Web video response to Romney's comment on liking to fire people:

1:41p.m. A One State Wonder. The Hill reports: "Jon Huntsman might be the trendy pick to surge in the New Hampshire primary, but a Public Policy Polling survey released on Tuesday shows it will be a challenge for him to carry that momentum into South Carolina, where he's currently polling behind comedian Stephen Colbert." Many people raise questions about PPP's polls. But still.

11:52 a.m. Oh, that former Massachusetts governor. Buzzfeed has surfaced "The Five Most Pro-Gay Romney Documents."

11:49 a.m. Ready, Aim, Fire. Mitt Romney's gaffe about liking to fire people continued to resonate Tuesday, TPM reports: "At an event in New Hampshire Tuesday, as Romney held a baby, someone in the audience yelled, 'Are you going to fire the baby?'"

11:01 a.m. Gingrich has a private equity past. CNN reports: "Upon leaving Congress in 1999, the former Speaker joined private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. as a member of its advisory board. It is unclear how long Gingrich served on the advisory board, or how much he was paid. The campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment. Forstmann Little was one of the world's original leveraged buyout firms, although its founder -- the late Teddy Forsmann -- often railed against what he saw as over-leveraging by rival firms (presumably including Bain). It effectively began winding down operations in 2005, following a legal dispute with the State of Connecticut over failed investments in a pair of large communications companies." The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby says it was also a competitor to Bain Capital.

11:00 a.m. A pro-Rommney backlash? New Hampshirites don't like being told what to think -- just ask Hillary Clinton. Tweets a Romney strategist:

10:50 a.m. Hello, New Hampshire. Here's your Atlantic morning reading: