U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney Tuesday scored an easy victory in the first-in-the-nation primary in New Hampshire, CNN reported.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney gives a thumbs up while visiting a polling station in Manchester, New Hampshire Jan 10, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
The former Massachusetts governor won 36 percent of the vote, followed by Texas congressman Ron Paul with 24 percent, the U.S. broadcaster projected while the ballots were still being calculated.
Romney's win was well expected as he has for months enjoyed a double-digit lead over other candidates in opinion polls. He viewed New Hampshire as his impregnable fortress as he was the governor of neighboring Massachusetts and even has a vacation home in the state.
He has campaigned for years in the state both for himself and his GOP colleagues.
Paul, who finished a close third in the Iowa caucuses, again demonstrated his competitiveness. His performance in New Hampshire was a little better than expected, partly thanks to a large turnout of independent voters, many of whom are Paul's supporters.
Among other competitors in the field, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman won 18 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum were essentially tied at 10 percent.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who largely skipped New Hampshire, came in at the bottom of the pack at 1 percent. Enditem
"Tonight we made history," Romney said at a celebration gathering with supporters Tuesday night. "Our future is brighter and better than these troubled times."
During the brief speech, the former governor continued his anti-Obama message by drawing a sharp contrast with the president on both domestic and foreign policies.
The New Hampshire primary, a week after the Iowa caucuses produced a virtual tie between Romney and Santorum, was seen as a high-stakes battle for all the candidates.
Romney needed a more beautiful win in the Granite State to consolidate his front-runner status. His razor-thin-margin victory in Iowa was mocked by critics as winning ugly.
The stakes for his rivals were even higher, as they needed to pick up momentum to keep their campaigns going.
Failure to do so could result in a drying-up of the campaign funds, forcing the candidate to drop out of the race, like what happened to Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses.