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Romney gets McCain’s nod, jets to N.H.
First primary » Santorum, Huntsman dismiss Mitt’s latest catch.


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On his campaign plane bound for New Hampshire, a grinning Romney told reporters he’d spoken to all his rivals except Gingrich Tuesday night and had gotten only two hours of sleep.

In all, more than 122,000 straw ballots were cast, a record for Iowa Republicans, and the outcome was a fitting conclusion to a race as erratic as any since Iowa gained the lead-off position in presidential campaigns four decades ago.

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Returns from all 1,774 precincts showed both Romney with 24.55 percent support and Santorum with 24.54 percent. Texas congressman Paul drew 21.5 percent of the votes.

The results are nonbinding when it comes to picking delegates to the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. But an Associated Press analysis showed Romney would win 13 delegates and Santorum 12, if there were no changes in their support as the campaign goes forward.

Paul ran third, ahead of Gingrich, the former House speaker. Both vowed to carry the fight to New Hampshire’s primary next week and beyond.

Jon Huntsman, who skipped Iowa but is making a run at New Hampshire, said the "kind of jumbled-up outcome" of the caucuses leaves it an open race.

"Who would have guessed that Rick Santorum tooling around in his pickup truck would have gone from nowhere to practically winning the Iowa caucus?" the former Utah governor said on CBS.

Romney’s slim victory also drew Democrats’ disdain. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz described him as "limping into New Hampshire."

Poised to become the front-runner’s chief agitator, Gingrich is welcoming Romney to New Hampshire with a full-page ad in the state’s largest newspaper that jabs him as a "Timid Massachusetts Moderate."

The day before, Gingrich, who has repeatedly vowed to stay positive in his party’s nomination contest, called Romney a liar on national television. Speaking to supporters later, he made clear that he wouldn’t back down.


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Paul was joining Santorum and Romney in New Hampshire this week to try to demonstrate his third-place finish in Iowa wasn’t a fluke. And the candidates will meet Huntsman, who began ratcheting up Romney criticism of his own in recent days.

Speaking to New Hampshire supporters while the votes were still being counted in Iowa, Huntsman questioned Romney’s belief system, suggesting he’s "been on three sides of every issue."

Romney has largely ignored the direct attacks so far. He’s amassed a ton of money and built a campaign organization in several states that staffers say will be able to go the distance to the nomination. In a show of force Tuesday, Romney became the first candidate to purchase television advertising in Florida, whose primary is Jan. 31.

Some of his competitors — most notably Santorum — have given virtually no thought to contests beyond South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary. Santorum struggled to pay for campaign transportation in recent days, never mind television advertising in states beyond New Hampshire.

He is spending just $16,000 to air a television ad on New Hampshire cable stations this week. Romney is spending $264,000 on television advertising in New Hampshire, $260,000 in South Carolina and $609,000 in Florida, according to figures obtained by The Associated Press.

Gingrich doesn’t have any television ads reserved going forward. But with two debates set for New Hampshire this weekend, he’s likely to use his national audience to drive his anti-Romney message.

And Paul, while often dismissed as unelectable by members of his own party, has strong organizations in states beyond Iowa and is spending more than Romney on television advertising in New Hampshire this week. He’s spending roughly $368,000 there and another $127,000 in South Carolina.

Paul told supporters his was one of two campaigns with the resources to go the distance and "believe me this momentum is going to continue."

Despite its importance as the lead-off state, Iowa has a decidedly uneven record of predicting national winners. It sent Obama on his way in 2008, but McCain finished a distant fourth here.



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