Election 2012
4:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Romney Is 2 For 2 In GOP Nominating Contests

Originally published on Wed January 11, 2012 5:50 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Mitt Romney will head into the rest of the Republican presidential contest with powerful momentum. After barely winning Iowa, he won New Hampshire convincingly last night.

GREENE: Romney took 39 percent of the vote. That put him far ahead of Ron Paul. Jon Huntsman finished third in the state, where he had campaigned almost exclusively.

INSKEEP: Let's start our coverage this morning with NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson, in Manchester.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY VICTORY SPEECH)

MITT ROMNEY: Tonight, we made history.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: No other non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate has ever won both Iowa and New Hampshire. Last night, a very confident Mitt Romney was sounding like the nominee. He devoted his entire victory speech to an attack on President Obama. He said that when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago, he pledged to bring people together, and to change the broken system in Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY VICTORY SPEECH)

ROMNEY: Those were the days of lofty promises made by a hopeful candidate. Today, we're faced with the disappointing record of a failed president.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ROMNEY: The last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven't offered much hope.

LIASSON: Romney's victory in New Hampshire was decisive - and he's in a strong position to win both South Carolina and Florida. But New Hampshire revealed some of Romney's vulnerabilities. Last night, he complained about the attacks on his record at Bain Capital - where, according to his critics, he made lots of money even when the companies he invested in went bankrupt and laid off workers.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY VICTORY SPEECH)

ROMNEY: 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD BOOING)

ROMNEY: This is such a mistake for our party, and for our nation. The country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We have to offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we're lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY CONCESSION SPEECH)

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: (Chanting) President Paul, President Paul...

RON PAUL: Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED SUPPORTERS: (Chanting) President Paul, President Paul...

LIASSON: Ron Paul finished in second place with a strong grassroots campaign.

PAUL: I called Governor Romney a short while ago, before he gave his talk, and congratulated him because he certainly had a clear-cut victory. But we're nibbling at his heels.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

LIASSON: Paul's positions on ending the Fed, bringing all U.S. troops home from everywhere, and legalizing marijuana appealed to about a quarter of New Hampshire's primary voters.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY CONCESSION SPEECH)

PAUL: The intellectual revolution that's going on now to restore liberty in this country is well on its way, and there's no way they're going to stop the momentum that we have started.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

LIASSON: But it's unclear just how the Republican Party keeps Ron Paul's army of young people and libertarians under its tent. Then there was Jon Huntsman, who staked everything on a good showing in the state but came up short. Still, he sounded thrilled when he thanked his supporters last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY CONCESSION SPEECH)

JON HUNTSMAN: Handshake by handshake, conversation by conversation, vote by vote, we got it done, ladies and gentlemen.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

LIASSON: Huntsman said the New Hampshire results gave him a ticket to ride - but to where? He doesn't have much of a presence in South Carolina or Florida, and it's hard to see any other state where he could find a purchase at this point.

Rick Santorum, who had tied Mitt Romney in Iowa, saw his momentum from the caucuses fizzle in New Hampshire, where he got only about 10 percent of the vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY CONCESSION SPEECH)

RICK SANTORUM: We knew it would be tough, but you know what? The message we had of going out and believing - believing in the American people - we took that message here to New Hampshire. We took it talking about our manufacturing plan, talking about what we're going to do to grow this economy; and we took it to talk about faith and family as the bedrock of our society.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: South Carolina's large bloc of evangelical voters should be receptive to Santorum's culturally conservative message, but there are still a handful of other candidates vying for the same voters - including Newt Gingrich, who led the attack on Mitt Romney's business record. While those attacks may have revealed potential weaknesses in Romney's candidacy, they don't seem to have helped Gingrich - although the former speaker didn't sound too discouraged after finishing in the back of the pack twice in a row.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRIMARY CONCESSION SPEECH)

NEWT GINGRICH: With your help, as your spokesperson, representing your values, on behalf of our children, our grandchildren and our country, I will do everything I can to win the opportunity to represent you this fall in debating, and then defeating, Barack Obama. Thank you and good luck, and God bless you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

LIASSON: All the candidates will be campaigning in South Carolina today. That state holds its primary a week from Saturday.

Mara Liasson, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.