Mitt Romney won the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary with almost 40 percent of the vote, giving the former Massachusetts governor a sweep of the first two critical tests in the GOP nominating contest. He used his victory speech to alternatively attack his potential rival, President Obama, and outline his plans if elected, saying voters must choose "between two very different destinies." Meanwhile, Texas Rep. Ron Paul finished a strong second with 23 percent of the vote and told his supporters, "but we are nibbling at [Romney’s] heels." Despite campaigning almost exclusively in New Hampshire, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman secured just 17 percent of the vote, but argued that "third place is a ticket to ride" and vowed to continue his campaign in South Carolina. We play excerpts from last night’s speeches by the top three Republican contenders. [includes rush transcript]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mitt Romney won the Republican presidential primary last night in New Hampshire, giving the former Massachusetts governor a sweep of the first two critical tests in the Republican nominating contest. Romney secured a more decisive victory in New Hampshire than his whisker-thin eight-vote edge last week in Iowa, receiving 39 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, Representative Ron Paul of Texas finished a strong second with 23 percent of the vote, and Jon Huntsman held a firm third with 17 percent. Trailing the pack, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum appeared to be tied in fourth place. They have seen their share of the vote shrink slightly. Now both have just under 10 percent.
We first turn to Mitt Romney, who spoke to supporters just half an hour after the polls closed, alternating between describing what he’d accomplish if elected and attacking President Obama.
MITT ROMNEY: In difficult times, we can’t abandon the core values that define us as a unique nation. We are one nation under God. Make no mistake. Make no mistake. In this campaign, I will offer the American ideals of economic freedom, a clear and unapologetic defense, and we’re going to win with that message.
But you know—you know that our campaign is about more than replacing a president. It’s about saving the soul of America. This election is a choice between two very different destinies. President Obama wants to fundamentally transform America. We want to restore America to the founding principles that made this country great. He wants to turn America into a European-style social welfare state. We want to ensure that we remain a free and prosperous land of opportunity. This president takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe. We look to the cities and towns across America for our inspiration.
This president puts his faith in government. We put our faith in the American people. This president is making the federal government bigger, burdensome and bloated. I will make the federal government simpler, smaller and smarter. He raised—he raised the national debt. I will cut, cap and balance the federal budget. He has enacted—
CROWD: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!
MITT ROMNEY: This president—this president has enacted job-killing regulations. I’ll eliminate them. He lost our AAA credit rating. I’ll restore it. He passed Obamacare. I’ll repeal it. And when—and when it comes to the economy, my highest priority as president will be worrying about your job, not about saving my own.
Internationally—internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. He believes America’s role as leader in the world is a thing of the past. I believe a strong America must and will lead the future. He doesn’t see the need for overwhelming American military superiority. I will insist on a military so powerful no one would ever think of challenging it. He criticizes our friends like Israel. I will always stand with our friends. And he apologizes for America. And I will never apologize for the greatest nation in the history of the earth.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaking last night in New Hampshire, where he won the Republican primary with 39 percent of the vote.
Texas Congress Member Ron Paul also celebrated last evening, having come in second. He told his supporters yesterday that his candidacy has forced the political system to talk about cuts in spending, monetary policy and the Federal Reserve.
REP. RON PAUL: And in studying monetary history from the beginning of our country, and even throughout all of history, monetary policy on periodic occasions will come—become the dominant issue. And we have emphasized that, and it has become an important issue. Just think: this is the first presidential campaign that the subject ever came up since the Federal Reserve was started. So we are now—because of what is happening, it will remain a dominant issue. There’s no way they’re going to put it to bed, because they have destroyed our money. It’s worldwide. There’s a financial crisis going on. And it’s only sound money and personal liberty that can solve the crisis that we have today.
But the one reason—the one reason I talk about the monetary system so much, it was a sneaky, deceitful way to pay the bills. You know, an honest government that wants to be a big-spending government would tax the people, and then the people would know what they were doing. If we had to pay taxes for everything that they do, you know, the people would rise up and stop it. So then they started borrowing money a lot, and then people didn’t notice that quite as much, because they’ve passed that on. But then they resorted to the printing of the money. And that is why the Federal Reserve was established: to take care of the powerful interests, the military-industrial complex, the banking system and deficit financing. And there’s a couple reasons they have deficit financing. Sometimes there are conservatives that want deficit financing, and sometimes there are liberals who want deficit—and they have resorted—they have resorted to this. And, of course, this is why we are facing this crisis today.
But it also serves those interests who like to think that we have this responsibility. They claim it’s a moral responsibility to take our young people, put them into the military, and send them hither and yon around the world, policing the world, and using up the money. So just—just as we have been able to bring to the forefront that most important issue of funny money, fiat money, the paper money system, the Federal Reserve, we have brought to the forefront—others have tokenly talked about it. They get in office and they do nothing about it. But right now, it is this liberty movement, which is seen as a patriotic movement, an individual liberty movement, that is saying to the country and to the world, we’ve had enough of sending our kids and our money around the world to be the policemen of the world. It’s the time to bring them home.
AMY GOODMAN: Texas Congress Member Ron Paul, finishing a strong second in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary yesterday.
Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman came in third. He had staked his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on a respectable showing in New Hampshire. In his speech last night, he vowed to stay in the race and take his campaign to South Carolina.
JON HUNTSMAN: Because the people of this great nation, the greatest nation that ever was, they are tired of being divided. They want leadership that will stand up and tell us all that, first and foremost, we need to come together as Americans in order to solve our problems. We—we need a president, ladies and gentlemen, who’s going to stand up and say we have an economic deficit. It’s called $15 trillion in debt. This isn’t a debt problem; it is a national security problem. And we are not going to leave it to the next generation of Americans, ladies and gentlemen.
And I want to stand up, and I want to square with the American people about this. Afghanistan is not our nation’s future. And Iraq is not this nation’s future. Our nation’s future is how prepared we are to rise up as the American people and hit head-on the competitive challenges of the 21st century. You know what I’m talking about? And this is about economics, and this is about education. And this is going to play out over the Pacific Ocean with countries that I have lived in before. And all I can tell you tonight, without any hint of hyperbole, folks, if we don’t get our act together at home, we will see the end of the American century by 2050. And we are not going to let that happen, are we?
Ladies and gentlemen, we also have been able to get our message out to the people of this great state about a second deficit that we have. It’s not an economic deficit, but it is just as corrosive as the economic deficit. It’s called a trust deficit, because the people of the greatest nation that ever was, the United States of America, no longer trust their institutions of power and no longer trust their elected officials. And I say, how did we get to this spot? We are too good as people to be in this hole. We are the most blue-sky, problem-solving, can-do, optimistic people on earth.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Jon Huntsman, who came in third last night in New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. When we come back, we’ll go to New Hampshire for a roundtable discussion with reporters, analysts, a former gubernatorial candidate now talk show host, as well as a member of Occupy New Hampshire. This is Democracy Now! Back in a minute.