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mitt romney on new hampshire primary night Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney waves to supporters at the Romney for President New Hampshire primary night victory party at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester on Tuesday January 10. (Photo: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Election 2012: Romney Takes New Hampshire

Win solidifies status as Republican frontrunner

By Coleman Hirschberg | null null , null

One week after a slim victory in the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday in decisive fashion.

The former Massachusetts governor claimed 39.4 percent of the vote, followed by Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman. Rick Santorum, who was eight votes behind Romney in Iowa, finished in fifth place in New Hampshire.

The other major Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, finished fourth and sixth, respectively.

With victories in the first two primary elections, Romney has secured his status as the Republican frontrunner. The next test of his candidacy comes in South Carolina. That state holds its primary on January 21.

"Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we go back to work," Romney told his supporters. "Tonight, we are asking the good people of South Carolina to join the citizens of New Hampshire and make 2012 the year [Obama] runs out of time."

Romney was projected to win the New Hampshire primary shortly after polls closed. At his campaign party at the Southern New Hampshire University Dining Center in Manchester, supporters were upbeat. People sang and danced and occasionally broke into a "Mitt 2012!" chant.

The supporters at the party came from all over the country, not just New Hampshire. One father and his daughter came from Alaska to be part of the night's events.

"I supported him four years ago when he won big in Alaska, and I think he will help turn around our country," Mead Treadwell said. Treadwell is the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska.

Another group came from California. The Davie-Morrises, a family of five, flew into New Hampshire the day before the primary to experience the campaign when "it's still anyone's game."

"I like that [Romney] has a good understanding of the economy and his family values," Aaron Davie-Morris said.

At Ron Paul's campaign headquarters, his supporters were also upbeat. He won 22.8 percent of the vote — a solid second place finish. The Texas representative finished a close third in Iowa.

Results started coming in at 8 p.m., and it only took a few minutes for word to spread that Paul finished second. Soon after, the first chants of "President Paul!" began. The crowd was anxious and excited, creating an atmosphere similar to that of New Year's Eve.

At 9 p.m., Paul took to the stage with his family.

"I called Governor Romney because he had a clear-cut victory," Paul said. "But we are nibbling at his heels!

Santorum, who campaigned heavily in New Hampshire, finished the night in fifth place with 9.4 percent of the vote. His campaign had high hopes for New Hampshire after taking second place in Iowa.

Like the other candidates, Santorum — and his supporters — knew early in the night how New Hampshire voted. At one point, there were more members of the media at his primary night party than supporters.

But when Santorum took the stage, the room had filled up. He refused to concede defeat and instead committed himself to winning in South Carolina.

"We have an opportunity to be the true conservative to do what's necessary," Santorum said. "We can win this race."

All eyes are now on South Carolina, the site of the next primary. The state goes to the polls on January 21. Stay with the Kids Press Corps and Scholastic News for the latest from South Carolina and the campaign trail.

Additional reporting by Sawyer Ames, Christine Zhu, and Chloe Conway.


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