As the U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination race moves to the northeastern state of New Hampshire, the two frontrunners are turning their verbal fire toward President Barack Obama.
At campaign events Thursday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum accused the president of steering the United States away from its tradition of self-reliance and free enterprise.
Santorum said the health care reform Obama championed shows he does not trust Americans to take care of themselves. And, speaking in South Carolina, Romney accused the president of giving favors to his friends instead of allowing everyone to earn opportunities based on their own merits.
Santorum lost by just eight votes to Romney in Tuesday's Iowa caucuses, the first nominating contest of the 2012 presidential election. It was a surprisingly strong performance for Santorum, launching him to the forefront of the race.
Romney got a boost after his narrow victory in Iowa, with an endorsement from Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. However, he has struggled to get more than 25 percent support in national opinion polls.
Ron Paul, a Texas congressman and anti-war advocate, placed a close third, with 21 percent, in Iowa, and has been finishing second behind Romney in the polls in New Hampshire.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich continues his campaign, making stops at four town halls Thursday in New Hampshire. Gingrich finished in fourth place in Iowa.
Texas Governor Rick Perry also vowed to continue his campaign despite a poor showing in Iowa, while Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann withdrew her candidacy after placing sixth there.
Former U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman came in last with 1 percent in the Iowa polls, but he hopes to do better in New Hampshire, where he has been focusing his efforts.
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.