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Romney predicted to win in New Hampshire
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Romney predicted to win in New Hampshire

Candidate defends himself against attacks from fellow Republicans

  • Mitt Romney
    WEBN-TV/FlickrMitt Romney

The latest numbers from New Hampshire indicate that Mitt Romney leads the Republican candidates at 37 percent, with Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman trailing at 18 and 16 percent respectively, according to The New York Times.

The polls opened early in New Hampshire and candidates Romney and Newt Gingrich showed up at Webster School for the obligatory polling place photo-op, according to the Wall Street Journal’s live blog. Huntsman and Paul were reportedly enroute to the same school in Manchester.

Romney, the widely held front-runner, was mobbed at the school, according to Politico bloggers Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman.

Romney’s comments at a rally on Monday, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” came back to haunt him as a reporter asked him to clarify.

Romney’s opponents have been quick to latch on to the comment, with Huntsman telling reporters in Concord, “Governor Romney enjoys firing people; I enjoy creating jobs.”

Gingrich said on NBC’s Today show, “I’m for capitalism, but if somebody comes in, takes all the money out of your company and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions, that’s not traditional capitalism.”

Gingrich was the first candidate to arrive in New Hampshire according to Politico. He has been heavily campaigning after his disappointing fourth place finish in Iowa despite political commentators concluding that New Hampshire is Romney’s to win.Rick Santorum, who only trailed Romney by eight votes in Iowa, said in response to Romney’s “fire people” comment, “I’m not making it a liability... I believe in the private sector.”

The margin by which Romney wins in New Hampshire is important in determining his performance in conservative bastion South Carolina, where he lost to Sen. John McCain in 2008.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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