No sooner is victory in his pocket than Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney looks south to the bigger challenge of South Carolina.
New Hampshire was always going to be easy meat for the former governor of next-door Massachusetts, but his urbane sophistication and insider’s style will not go down as well in more folksy South Carolina, even as he aims more shots at the president.
He told supporters: “We do remember when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago he promised to bring people together, he promised to change the broken system in Washington, he promised to improve our nation. Those were the days of lofty promises made by a hopeful candidate; today we’re faced with the disappointing record of a failed president.”
Romney now may feel comfortable enough to dismiss the challengers and go after Obama full time. Ron Paul’s second place keeps him in the race, and Jon Huntsman’s credible third after a late start is impressive enough to take him into the next race, but beyond that it is hard to see the moderate making the Republican activist base swoon.
However, Rick Perry is now starting to look like he is dead in the water, and Newt Gingrich, despite his high profile and debating skills needs to reinvigorate his campaign or he is lost.
Come January 21 tens of millions of dollars will be spent on campaigning, and here too Romney is well-prepared with a personal fortune on tap should he need it, whereas the others are busy fighting each other for endorsements and cash.
If Romney wins he may start to believe himself unstoppable, but he needs to convince the Republican electorate, too, something he has failed to do nationally in the past.