The votes are in from New Hampshire’s Republican primary, results which produced no big surprises with Mitt Romney winning by a comfortable margin.
So where does this leave the Republicans in their battle to take on Barack Obama in this November’s election?
Joining us from New Hampshire is our reporter Stefan Grobe. So, has Mitt Romney got it in the bag?
Stefan Grobe, euronews, New Hampshire:
I think so, James. Romney and his family went out to the movies on primary day and watched the latest Mission Impossible movie, but it was more ‘mission accomplished’ for him. He won by a comfortable margin and I think he has it pretty much in the bag.
James Franey, euronews: There was a strong showing by Ron Paul, polling 23 to 25 percent of the vote. Where does his campaign go from here?
That was a bit of a surprise. In the very last polls, he was considered to be much weaker. But with Ron Paul, you may or may not like his political ideas, he is the truly authentic candidate. He is the oldest candidate, 76 years old, but amongst his followers is especially youngsters, first-time voters and college students.
So call him a libertarian, call him a Republican candidate, he will have a solid base in the 20-25 percent range. Beyond that I doubt he could be a danger to Mitt Romney.
James Franey, euronews: He also doesn’t have the same spending power as Mitt Romney.
That’s exactly so. Mitt Romney is by far the richest candidate and the best-funded amongst the Republican candidates in the field
James Franey: We heard about a lot about Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China. He was said to be surging in the polls right at the last moment, but then he came in at a very disappointing third place. I guess he’s now down and out, he’s out of the race?
Officially, he’s still in the race. He was a bit of an unknown and a little bit of a threat to Mitt Romney because he is fishing in the same pond. He is a moderate Republican, he’s not a conservative. He has a strong CV like Romney, and good-looking. And of course, he is a member of the Republican establishment. A strong showing of Jon Huntsman would have been a danger to Mitt Romney, but that did not materialise. Huntsman announced already that he wants to carry on into South Carolina. By far, Romney remains the strongest Republican candidate.
James Franey: So where does the race go from here? Looking forward to the primary in South Carolina on January 21st, do you think that the focus on Mitt Romney’s past career in private equity could come into play there. How do you see the race panning out as we move ahead?
That is a bit of an issue. Romney went on the defensive here over the job cutting question when he worked at Bain Capital and he got pounded for that by Newt Gingrich. Now, Gingrich has announced that South Carolina is a must-win state for him. South Carolina is a total different ball game, it’s much bigger than New Hampshire and it’s much more conservative. There are many more Christian Evangelicals and that is the electorate that Newt Gingrich is aiming at. So it will be a difficult play here but having said that, Mitt Romney is in the lead in South Carolina and if he wins South Carolina then he is going to wrap this thing up very, very quickly.