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Romney Leads Republican Presidential Candidates in New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event in Conway, South Carolina, Jan. 6, 2012.
Republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign event in Conway, South Carolina, Jan. 6, 2012.

A new poll shows former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney maintaining a significant lead among Republican presidential candidates vying for votes in New Hampshire.

In the 7 News/Suffolk University tracking poll, 40 percent of likely voters in the state's January 10 Republican primary chose Romney.

Romney's lead in New Hampshire follows his win in the Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest in the presidential race.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire Thursday, Romney talked tough about President Barack Obama.

"He's also failed our economy," said Romney.  "We have a president who did not cause the downturn, but he is making it more difficult for the economy to recover."

Video: A look at New Hampshire

Texas Congressman Ron Paul was second to Romney in the New Hampshire poll with 17 percent support, while former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who finished just eight votes behind Romney in Iowa, gained ground to come in third with 11 percent. The director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center said Santorum is the only Republican candidate moving up in New Hampshire.

The socially conservative Santorum got booed at an event with college students in New Hampshire Thursday after discussing his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Former House of Representatives speaker Newt Gingrich followed in the New Hampshire poll with nine percent, while former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman had eight percent.

On Friday, Huntsman's campaign received a boost with an endorsement from a newspaper, The Boston Globe.

The Massachusetts-based newspaper called Huntsman's experience as U.S. ambassador to China under President Barack Obama "a deeply meaningful credential."

Huntsman came in last in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses with one percent, but he hopes to do better in New Hampshire, where The Boston Globe has sizeable readership.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is also continuing his campaign despite a poor showing in Iowa, while Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann withdrew her candidacy after placing sixth there.  

President Obama made his first campaign stop of 2012 in Ohio on Wednesday. The president faces a difficult campaign to win a second term because of the sluggish economy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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