In U.S. politics, the Republican presidential contenders are focusing their campaign efforts in New Hampshire in advance of Tuesday’s primary vote to choose a presidential candidate to take on President Barack Obama in November.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney got an enthusiastic welcome Saturday at a campaign rally in southern New Hampshire.
Romney leads in all the polls here but appears to be taking nothing for granted. He is well aware that New Hampshire voters can be fickle no matter what the polls say, so he is urging supporters to get out and vote on Tuesday.
“Let me tell you, don’t get too confident with those poll numbers," Romney said. "I’ve watched polls come and go and things change very quickly," It’s very fluid. I need to make sure you guys get your friends to go out and vote, and you vote as well.”
Romney is favored in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and hopes to build on his razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucus voting over former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Romney, Santorum and four other Republican candidates will face off in a debate Saturday night, and again on Sunday morning before Tuesday's primary vote.
Santorum rode a wave of support from social conservatives in Iowa, including many Christian conservatives. But New Hampshire is known more for independent voters than strong social conservatives, so Santorum may find it harder to build support here.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich are also competing in New Hampshire.
Gingrich has stepped up his attacks on Romney after being the target of millions of dollars in negative TV ads in Iowa, paid for by Ron Paul and by independent groups friendly to Romney.
“I don’t have their kind of money," Gingrich said. "But if I have you as supporters, I can have human beings who offset every vicious, negative ad and together we can insist on the truth.”
New Hampshire voters place a special value on being able to meet so many presidential candidates because of the importance of the state’s primary, said Mary Claire Heffernan.
“We just love the process. It is a great place to live because it really is retail politics. We were talking about the number of candidates we got to see over the years and it’s like nothing else. You get really close," Heffernan said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry remains in the race after a poor showing in Iowa. But Perry is largely skipping New Hampshire to focus on the next contest in the Republican race, the South Carolina primary on January 21st.
A Republican nominee to face President Obama will be chosen over the next several months after a series of primary and caucus votes in the various states.
Republicans will formally nominate a candidate at their national convention in late August in Florida. Democrats are expected to re-nominate President Obama at their national convention in early September in North Carolina.