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NH Primary: Romney ahead in early returns as Republican rivals look ahead to South Carolina
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) ' Mitt Romney jumped ahead in early returns from the New Hampshire primary Tuesday night, eager to add to the previous week's first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and cement himself as the man to beat for the Republican presidential nomination.
Returns from the first three precincts showed the former Massachusetts governor with 38 percent of the vote, followed by Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 23 percent and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman with 16 percent.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum trailed with 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.
Romney battled not only his rivals but also high expectations as the ballots were counted, particularly since his pursuers had virtually conceded New Hampshire and were already pointing to the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21 as the place to block his rise.