UPDATE: Romney wins New Hampshire primary - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Romney wins New Hampshire primary

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- As he celebrates his win in the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney is focusing on the themes that he intends to use against President Barack Obama.

Romney told supporters that the nation's middle class "has been crushed" in the past three years. He said the nation's "debt is too high and our opportunities too few."

In advance of the vote count, Romney's rivals were hoping only to limit his margin of victory, with some suggesting that anything short of 40 percent would be a setback for him. With about half the vote counted, Romney had 37 percent of the vote, followed by Ron Paul with 23 percent and Jon Huntsman with 17 percent.

With Romney and Paul clearly running one-two in the polls leading up to New Hampshire, third place appeared to be the best that any of the others could hope for. And Huntsman told supporters that his third-place finish showed that he's "in the hunt."

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CONCORD, N.H. (WKOW) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has won the New Hampshire Republican primary.

Romney is the first Republican to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in a competitive race since Iowa took the leadoff role in 1976.

The Associated Press called the race around 7 p.m. CST.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- With 7 percent of New Hampshire's precincts reporting, Mitt Romney leads the GOP's presidential nomination fight with 36 percent of the vote.

He's followed by Texas congressman Ron Paul with 25 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 15 percent.

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (WKOW) -- They're not counting on a win -- but Mitt Romney's five Republican opponents are hoping to finish well enough in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary to prove they're still in the race, so they can challenge him again in South Carolina and Florida.

They believe that a narrow-than-expected win for Romney will provide more evidence that Republicans still have doubts about him.

Jon Huntsman says if he can chug out of the New Hampshire primary "with a head of steam" he can prove he's the Republican candidate who can defeat Barack Obama. But on NBC's "Today" show, he wouldn't say whether he would leave the race if he doesn't finish in the top three.

The rivals yesterday pounced on Romney's comment that he likes to be able to "fire people."

But Tuesday, they've pulled back -- noting that he was talking about letting people change health insurance providers.

Rick Santorum says he's "not going to play gotcha politics." Newt Gingrich says it would be "totally unfair" to take Romney's remarks out of context.

Santorum, who finished in a virtual dead-heat in Iowa, says there hasn't been enough time to capitalize on that momentum before New Hampshire. Before shaking hands this morning outside a polling place in Manchester, he said he'd be content to pull a double-digit percentage of the votes.

Ron Paul has been running a strong second to Romney in New Hampshire for much of the year -- so third place may become a highly-coveted spot.

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MANCHESTER, N.H. (WKOW) -- Voting has already begun in the nation's first primary, happening just after midnight Tuesday in the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

The votes have been counted in Dixville Notch, the New Hampshire village known for casting the first ballots in the nation's first presidential primary.

Six Republican ballots were cast: Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney tied with two votes each.

Jeff McIver, Dixville Notch voter, said, "I'm very happy with the results, very close, very close elections.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leads in one recent poll by 24 points, but on Monday, made some of his biggest slips on the campaign trail.

Romney said, "I like being able to fire people who provide service to me."

Romney was trying to make the case that Americans should be able to chose their own health insurance to drop a company if they like, but his opponents jumped all over the remark.

Jon Huntsman said, "Governor Romney enjoys firing people, I enjoy creating jobs."

 

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