January 10th, 2012
Mitt Romney scored a decisive victory in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, securing back-to-back wins in the first two contests of the presidential nominating season as he tries to turn his frontrunning campaign into a steamroller.
His New Hampshire performance puts Romney's campaign in strong position going into South Carolina, the next primary on the calendar and one that historically has been key to the GOP presidential nomination. But Romney still has a fight on his hands, as the five other candidates vowed to press on and meet him in the Palmetto State.<; text-align: left; text-decoration: none; border: medium none;">
In New Hampshire, Ron Paul finished in second and Jon Huntsman finished in third, Fox News projects. Rick Perry is projected to finish in sixth place -- the remaining drama in the state is shaping up to be a race for fourth, between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Both candidates are pulling in 10 percent of the vote.
Though Romney's margin of victory is not yet clear, Fox News projects he will win by double digits. With 75 percent of precincts reporting, Romney is leading with 38 percent of the vote. Paul has 23 percent and Huntsman has 17 percent.
With Romney's victory apparent almost from the moment polls closed on Tuesday, the frontrunning candidate addressed a jubilant and rowdy crowd in Manchester. The audience frequently broke out into cheers and chants of "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" as the candidate vowed to take the fight into South Carolina, which holds the next primary.
"Tonight, we made history," Romney said. "Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we go back to work."
Keeping his eye on President Obama, Romney described the incumbent as a "failed" president who did not live up to the "lofty promises" made on the New Hampshire stage just four years ago.
"The president has run out of ideas, now he's run out of excuses," Romney said. He urged South Carolina to "make 2012 the year he runs out of time."
Romney also had some choices words for his Republican opponents who have sharply criticized him for his tenure at investment firm Bain Capital. Though Romney did not name those opponents, Gingrich and Perry have been the most critical of Romney on that front.
"President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial, and the last few days we've seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him," Romney said. "This is such a mistake for our party."
Romney said the country "already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy."
Expectations had been raised to unnerving levels for the former Massachusetts governor in New Hampshire. The candidate won the leadoff Iowa caucuses by just eight votes -- a back-to-back win in New Hampshire is a historic achievement, but his competitors tried to raise the bar to towering heights for Romney ahead of Tuesday's vote.
Newt Gingrich had suggested Romney would need to win with 50 percent of the vote, though analysts put his ideal percentage at about 37 percent or more.
As polls persistently showed Romney dominating in the New Hampshire contest, the primary over the last few months evolved into a hard-fought race among his competitors for second place. Paul, who placed third in Iowa, claimed that prize on Tuesday night.
Paul frequently has been dismissed by some of his opponents as an arch-liberal on foreign policy whose views on shrinking the country's global military footprint are dangerous for America. Paul dismissed that charge, but agreed at his post-election celebration Tuesday that "we are dangerous to the status quo."
Touching on his trademark issues, the Texas congressman went on to trumpet the virtues of "sound money" and "personal liberty" and rail against the Afghanistan war.
Paul said Romney had a "clear-cut victory" in New Hampshire, but added: "We're nibbling at his heels."
Huntsman, meanwhile, tried to rally supporters after his third-place finish. The former Utah governor had staked his campaign on New Hampshire, ignoring the Iowa caucuses in favor of a wall-to-wall push for Granite State votes. Though he is polling poorly in South Carolina, Huntsman said Tuesday he's "on the hunt."
"I think third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentlemen," Huntsman said. "Hello, South Carolina."
Gingrich likewise said his campaign is going on to South Carolina, arguing that he will take to that contest a "campaign for jobs and economic growth."
"This is step two of a long process," Gingrich said.
And Santorum, who placed second in Iowa after surging from the back of the pack, said Tuesday night that "we have a campaign that has a message and a messenger that can deliver what we need, which is first and foremost, to defeat Barack Obama."
Perry was poised to pull in about 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. Perry placed fifth in the Iowa caucuses and has struggled to recapture the momentum his campaign boasted after his entrance into the race over the summer, though his campaign on Tuesday set its sights on the next primary. He told Fox News his message will "resonate" in South Carolina.
Exit polling Tuesday offered a glimpse into voters' mindset. The data showed independents in particular were sharply divided over their choice for the Republican presidential nominee.
The polling showed undeclared voters made up a significant 44 percent of voters in the Granite State on Tuesday -- that's nearly twice the number of independents that showed up in Iowa last week. In that group, 30 percent said they were supporting Romney, while 29 percent were supporting Paul and 27 percent were supporting Huntsman.
Among late deciders, the line-up was slightly different. The exit polls showed 29 percent breaking for Romney, while 24 percent were backing Huntsman and 20 percent were backing Santorum. Romney also led among those who think the most important quality in a candidate is the ability to beat Obama.
Related from Fox
January 10th, 2012
The Christian Science Monitor / By Dan Murphy
The information warriors at the Pentagon probably can't believe their luck.
Iran has spent much of the past month crowing about how it could shut down the Strait of Hormuz -- a choke-point for vast quantities of seaborne oil for nearly 40 percent of the world -- and said it was "warning" the US to keep its ships out of the Persian Gulf. The US, as a far greater naval power, with a naval base in Bahrain, and an interest in keeping sea lanes open, brushed off the Iranian threat.
Though tensions have continued to rise, with Iran sentencing Iranian-American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati to death yesterday for allegedly spying (his family says he returned to Iran to visit his grandmother) and new US sanctions on Iran's central bank, two peaceful opportunities to underscore the US naval reach in the region literally fell into America's lap.
Last week, the Navy destroyer USS Kidd swept in and rescued 13 Iranian fishermen who'd been held hostage on their small boat by Somali pirates for over a month. The fishermen, who'd been through a "horrific" ordeal according to one of their American rescuers, were given food, medical treatment, and enough fuel to steam home.
Today, the US Coast Guard got into the act. The Coast Guard provides security for the US 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain and patrols the Persian Gulf. Patrol boat Monomoy responded to a distress call from the Iranian cargo dhow, Ya-Hussayn, at about 3 am this morning. The boat was taking on water and had a fire in the engine room and the Monomoy took its six person crew aboard.
The US sailors gave the Iranians a halal meal ("Halal meals are in accordance with Islamic law and are stored aboard U.S. Coast Guard ships to provide to Muslim mariners in distress," the US 5th Fleet helpfully explains), blankets, and minor medical assistance before transferring them to the Iranian Coast Guard's Naji 7 an hour and a half later.
Small cargo boats routinely ply the waters of the Gulf from Iran to Dubai, Manama, and other entrepôts on the Arab western coast. Though the word "dhow" was traditionally used to describe single-masted vessels, rigged with triangular sails, it's sometimes used generically for "cargo boat" in the region.
In the past, Iranian forces haven't been as friendly to civilian mariners in the Gulf. In 2009, Iran's navy seized a British yacht in the Strait of Hormuz, which is just 30 miles wide at its narrowest point and the gateway to the Gulf. The Kingdom of Bahrain's five crew members were held for a few days in Iran and at one point threatened with prosecution before their release. In 2007, Iran seized and held 15 British sailors and marines who allegedly entered Iranian waters while they were patrolling the Iraqi coast. It released them after two weeks.
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January 10th, 2012
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — A group of scientists that tracks the likelihood of a global cataclysm says the world is moving closer to doomsday.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Tuesday that it has moved its “Doomsday Clock” to five minutes to midnight.
The group says inadequate progress on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and continuing inaction on climate change are the reasons for the change.
The clock had been set at six minutes to midnight for the past two years. It was previously set at five minutes to midnight from 2007-2010.
The group says in a statement that two years ago, there was reason for optimism “that world leaders might address the truly global threats we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed.”
January 10th, 2012
Manchester, N.H. — They are notoriously independent, engaged and awfully flirty, kicking the tires of candidate after candidate before finally making a decision. At the McDonough School here on Tuesday, they trickled in before heading off to work, casting their vote after a campaign that — to some — seemed to go on and on and on.
“They started so early,” said Elaine Cote, 39, a legal assistant. “It feels like this has been going on for two years. This one was ahead and then that one. It was all over the place.”
Cote, who made up her mind a while ago for Jon M. Huntsman Jr., worries about the handwriting on the wall for her candidate. Though the former U.S. ambassador to China seemed to go from footnote to possible spoiler in a matter of days, he still remains a long shot to challenge his former boss in November. But Cote knows how unpredictable her neighbors can be.
“You never know until it comes right down to it,” she said.
Voters in this independence-minded state reserve their right to change their minds until the very last minute; some 25 percent were still undecided headed into primary day, a fact that rankled morning-drive radio hosts. Could voters really have been paying that much attention, they wondered, if they still hadn’t made up their minds?
Truth is, New Hampshire residents couldn’t avoid the GOP nomination contest if they tried. In the final hours, it was as if the entire, months-long campaign cycle was being packed into raucous three days. There was a flood of ads and rallies, and two debates, which in some ways seemed to feature two different sets of candidates. The hopefuls pulled their punches on stage one night, and the next morning pulled out some of their best lines.
“For me, it was a symbolic vote,” said Sudi Lett, 27, an independent who runs a nonprofit organization and cast his ballot for Ron Paul, but plans to vote for President Obama in the general election. “A lot of people died for me to be able to show up and vote. So I vote.”
Lett said he admires Paul’s isolationist foreign policy approach, even though he knows that Paul has virtually no chance of beating Obama come November. “We don’ t need to be in so many wars, and the government shouldn’t be able to declare martial law,” Lett said, echoing a talking point from Paul’s sky-is-falling speech.
Paul, who came in third in Iowa — and, if polls portend the outcome, could come in second to Romney, who holds a double-digit lead in New Hampshire and a money and organizational edge over his opponents. Romney has visited the state more than any other candidate and has a summer home here. People speak about him like he has always been around — and in a way, he has.
“I made up my mind when he ran last time,” said Martha Galanis, 72, a retired office worker. “He has put his heart and soul into whatever he does. He’s honest, he’s thick-skinned. He doesn’t look it, but he is. So what if he’s rich. He earned it.”
Yet, the former Massachusetts governor still hasn’t broken through to everyone in New Hampshire, partly because of his more moderate views.
James Kenney, a carpenter, had been searching for a true social conservative.
He liked Michele Bachmann, but after Iowa, she was gone, so he picked the next best candidate.
“Newt slammed the media the other day and he slammed Obama for keeping religion so separate,” said Kenney, 37, who decided within 48 hours of casting his ballot to support the former Georgia congressman.
“I’m a Catholic, Christian conservative just like Gingrich, and I like that Newt sticks up for those values. But if it comes down to Romney, I would vote for him [against Obama]. I think we have a pretty good shot.”
January 10th, 2012
By Barry Secrest
The Supreme Court ruled against a 1965 Statist overreach, in Connecticut, in which the nut-jobs of that state instated a ban on contraception, for heaven's sake. This, my friends, would likely lead to an unprecedented explosion in abortions, for any of those who might be wondering.
But the question from Stephanopolis rightfully lambasts Santorum's recent opinion that the State has the right to ban such contraceptives. Where, ladies and gentlemen, is the Liberty in not allowing someone to make such a basic decision within their own lives? And, does Santorum wear his Catholic religious beliefs on his sleeve, to such a degree, that he would impose these beliefs on others who may not hold that same belief system?
True Conservatism does not allow for such excess, it must be noted. And yet the prospect of A State having supreme authority over an individual, in such cases, is clearly a question in Federalism's stark corner.
Most theologians would agree that Christ, within the faith of Christianity, never demanded that everyone believe in him "or else," however, Santorum appears to totally forget the basic tenents of natural law and free will, assuming he has even heard of natural law, which, at this point, appears increasingly doubtful.
Ultimately, Mitt Romney, with a deer in the headlights expression clearly seen in the video, gladly passed the unvetted question to the resident Constitutional expert in Ron Paul. Interestingly, by Romney's referral to Paul "as being the Constitutionalist," Romney unwittingly admitted that perhaps he was not the constitutional expert in the bunch. That being yet another veiled aspersion, ideally, to constitutional expert and historian Newt Gingrich, which must be duly noted but overlooked, under the circumstances.
However, "most of us" would prefer a President who does not pass the tough questions on to his closest competitor.
I'm Just Sayin'