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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Mitt Romney Wins New Hampshire Primary
Aired January 10, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He worked hard in this state. He invested in this state. And the people of New Hampshire gave him a very hard-earned victory. And I spoke with Governor Romney and congratulated him on that win and said that I'm looking forward to engaging on the subject matter on issues, talking about records, talking about how we're going to best -- put the best foot forward and put the best person forward to deliver a message to the American people that can unite us.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity in this race. We have an opportunity to be the true conservative, the true conservative who can go out and do what's necessary, not just to win this race -- and we can win this race...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SANTORUM: ... but to be the conservative who understands that, at the foundation of our country, are institutions that are crucial for us to be a successful nation, families, families that are bonded together as the foundation, that instill virtue and faith in our children, to build strong communities and build a great nation from the bottom up. That's the message, along with a government that understands that we have to create a playing field for all Americans of a variety of different skill sets to be able to be successful in this country.
We have a message that can appeal not just in South Carolina, but across this nation and, in particular, in the states that are necessary for us to win this election, in the states that are the swing states, like Pennsylvania and Ohio and Indiana and Michigan, the states that I have been successful, like in Pennsylvania, in winning elections. Ladies and gentlemen, we're not only going to go out and deliver a message of the basic structure -- the basic structure and the foundation of our country, being faith and family and an opportunity society, but we're going to do so understanding that, with faith in the American people, we can not only wipe out this deficit, we can not only rebuild this economy, we can not only have a strong America that stands up for the values that I just talked about, but we can do so in a huge victory that will rally this country to take on the great challenges we have before us.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SANTORUM: On to South Carolina. Thank you, and God bless you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So, there you see Rick Santorum.
He's making it clear -- there was really no doubt -- he's off to South Carolina. Like the other candidates, they're all speaking not only to folks in New Hampshire, but they're speaking to folks in South Carolina, Florida, indeed the entire nation.
We are still going to be hearing from Newt Gingrich, Anderson, Newt Gingrich the last of the Republican candidates to speak. Rick Perry, he got out of New Hampshire pretty quickly. He's already in South Carolina. So, presumably, he's not going to be making any kind of a speech.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, he was basically there for two debates, and that is about it.
BLITZER: Yes. That was it.
COOPER: I'm curious to know from our analysts and reporters what happened to Rick Santorum and to Newt Gingrich in New Hampshire.
They left Iowa. There was this narrative. For Santorum, it was game on. For Gingrich, it was kind of this renewed anger toward Romney.
Did they lack focus? What...
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there just isn't a strong constituency, not a strong evangelical constituency. People weren't voting on the social issues. You saw in our exit polls that people were voting on the economy. And that's really Mitt Romney's issue set.
BLITZER: Hold on one second. Hold on a second.
We have Newt Gingrich right now. I want to play his remarks. He's just spoken to his supporters.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... each and every one of you.
I also want to thank all of the people around the state of New Hampshire who were so warm and so generous to Callista, to Cathy (ph) and to Jackie (ph) and to me. Everywhere we went, it was remarkable how many people were positive and how many people were actively supportive and helpful. And I'm delighted to have had this chance to spend time and to learn more about the key concerns here.
And I want to thank everybody here who's been helpful to us, particularly Speaker O'Brien, who just did a great, great job, and Laurie Sanburn (ph), who's been tremendous.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) GINGRICH: And one of the great virtues of running is that, everywhere you go, you'll learn something, and you pick up a better understanding of America. And I have to say that the leadership that Speaker O'Brien and the house showed in developing a brand-new approach that I hope will become adopted everywhere in America, where they actually had the Ways and Means Committee report first, and it indicated how much money they would have. And they then actually adopted a budget to fit their income, which is the opposite of every other state I know of in the country, which writes a budget and then tries to go find more of your money to fill in what they think they need.
And the result was a very courageous and a very serious effort in which they cut 11 percent out of spending, which is a remarkable achievement, which if accomplished in Washington, would begin to move us back on the right track.
So, Speaker, I really commend you for the leadership.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: This is step two of a long process. And having both been a historian and been active a long time, you learn certain things. So let me put in context where we are.
We have an opportunity, I think, to unify the country around a message of jobs, economic growth, and very dramatic programs. (inaudible) that opportunity is to reach out to everybody of every background who would rather have paychecks than food stamps, to convince them that what Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s, in creating millions of new jobs, what we did when I was speaker in the 1990s, in creating millions of new jobs, can be done again.
This campaign is going to go on to South Carolina.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: And we're going to offer the American people something very different. We're going to offer them an opportunity to participate in very dramatic, very fundamental change in Washington, D.C. And we're going to prove that I both understand the principles and I understand the practice.
I learned a lot of those principles from Ronald Reagan and from Margaret Thatcher. I got to practice them as a junior congressman, working with President Reagan. I got to practice them as speaker, working with Bill Clinton. And I want to suggest to you, when Ronald Reagan was president, we had to find a way to get votes through the House, despite the fact that Tip O'Neill was speaker. When I was speaker, we had to find a way to get bills signed, despite the fact that Bill Clinton was president.
I believe, if we had a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Gingrich presidency, it would be amazing how much we could get done and how rapidly we'd get it done.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: So we're going to take to South Carolina tonight and kick off tomorrow morning a campaign for jobs and economic growth, a campaign for a balanced budget, a campaign for returning power to the states through the 10th Amendment, a campaign for a strong national security, a campaign for a stable, solid Social Security program, both for people now on it and for the young people who are here who deserve a chance in their lifetime to have an even better program with an even greater return, because if we are smart, we can do better things for people.
The Washington alternatives, how do we raise taxes and cut spending in a way that causes you pain on the spending side and causes you pain on the tax side, is exactly backwards. I was really struck -- this is part of learning, when we had a debate the other day and we were asked about LIHEAP, the heating assistance program. And it was phrased in a perfectly Washington way. Are you going to run a bigger deficit so you can help more people, or are you going to cut people off and hurt them so you can shrink the deficit?
Nobody on the panel asking the question seemed to consider an alternative. What if we simply went out and developed American oil and gas, brought down the cost of heating oil, and didn't need to help people because the price came down?
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: That idea of doing more and doing it better does not exist in the Washington lexicon, and it makes it very hard for our friends in the news media to cover, because it's so strange. What if you just were innovative? What if you just had new approaches? What if you just did everything Americans have always done?
The fact is, the entrepreneurial free enterprise system which attracted people from Benjamin Franklin to the Wright brothers to Henry Ford to Thomas Edison to Bill Gates to Steve Jobs, that model of maximizing the development of new approaches, new energy, new opportunities, new technology has raised the standard of living of people across this planet more than any other system in the history of the world. With your help...
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
GINGRICH: You've been wonderful to us here. And I'm asking each of you not to slow down. In the next couple of days, make a list of every person you know in South Carolina, and every person you know in Florida, because those are the next two great contests. And I believe, as we get to South Carolina, as the choice becomes clear, as people understand that there is a bold Reagan conservative approach of lower taxes, less regulations, more American energy, a sound dollar, and actually being in favor of creating jobs, the opposite of the Obama program of higher taxes, more regulation, less American energy, and attacking the people who create jobs, look at those two models.
I believe we can reach out and we can create a majority that will shock the country and a majority that will begin to put us back on the right track. It is doable. It is a daunting challenge, but consider the alternative.
If we do not go the extra mile, and we do not offer a vision powerful enough to unify Americans, and we continue down the road that Obama has us on, but more than Obama, the bureaucracy has us on, the judges have us on, the entire pattern of how Washington operates has us on, more years of decay, more years of inadequacy, more years of falling behind, more years of growing weakness. That's -- that's the alternative.
I believe that it will take someone who is capable of debating Barack Obama face to face, delivering the conservative message, winning the argument in order to overcome his billion-dollar machine.
With your help, as your spokesperson, representing your values, on behalf of our children, our grandchildren, and our country, I will do everything I can to win the opportunity to represent you this fall in debating and then defeating Barack Obama.
Thank you, good luck, and God bless you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
BLITZER: All right, we have now heard from all five candidates who stayed in New Hampshire, Newt Gingrich the last.
We're going to be going to Charleston, South Carolina, when we come back. You saw those little squiggly lines at the bottom of your screen. We had a focus group of undecided Republicans in South Carolina. That's the next big contest on January 21.
Tom Foreman is there. We will hear what these folks have to say about these five Republican candidates. You just heard all of their speeches.
We will take a quick break -- more of our coverage from that CNN Election Center when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back here at the CNN Election Center.
Let me show you the vote tally. This is the official vote tally right now -- 73 percent of the precincts are in. Mitt Romney is the winner. We projected that long ago -- 38 percent. He's got 60,648 votes. He's 23,000 votes ahead of the number two, Ron Paul, with 24 percent, 37,762.
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, comes in third, with 26,000, almost 27,000, 17 percent. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, they both have 10 percent, Santorum a little bit more than Newt Gingrich, 15,618 to 15,596, not a big difference. Obviously, Rick Perry, who is already in South Carolina, really didn't even campaign in New Hampshire, only 1 percent, 1,182 votes.
Let's go over to John King. He's looking a little bit closer at all of these numbers. Still have, what, 29 percent of the precincts outstanding. The numbers could change.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: The numbers could change.
Important you say precincts, not vote. People see this, they think it's 71 percent of the vote. It's 71 percent of the precincts. Up here, where you see the open parts on the map, these are mostly small towns. I will just tap on one to give you (INAUDIBLE) 0.0 percent, essentially so small, it doesn't have an impact on the state population.
Nothing that happens up here is going to significantly change the outcome because of the margins. There are still a few more populous areas down here along the border, Salem, for example, 2.3 percent of the population. The Romney campaign believes he will run up good numbers down here. So they believe in camp Romney that that 38 percent might actually tick up and at least is not in danger of coming down in any way, 38.
Just in terms of history, you want to go back, John McCain carried New Hampshire last time with 37 percent of the vote. Looks like Mitt Romney is on track -- he was so disappointed four years ago -- Mitt Romney on track to match the McCain number.
Now, let's come back to this thing here. We go on to South Carolina. Right? Ron Paul is still in the race. Huntsman said he will stay in the race. Santorum says South Carolina much better suited to his conservative principles. Newt Gingrich says he is still in the race. Rick Perry didn't contest in New Hampshire. He's down waiting in South Carolina.
What happens then? Romney goes into South Carolina with some momentum. Let's go down the map a little bit and bring it out. South Carolina is waiting next to fill it in. What happens then? What happens?
Well, Romney goes in as your front-runner. He's John McCain of four years ago. You have one, you have two, you have three, you have four, you have five. You have five other candidates still in the race. The question is, do you have in South Carolina this time around what we saw in South Carolina last time around, where with a crowded field, John McCain comes down, wins the more moderate establishment along the coast, does pretty well in the center part of states?
Huckabee and Thompson -- Huckabee wins it. But Fred Thompson takes a lot of the Christian conservative vote.
Do you have, Anderson, next time, as we move on to South Carolina this time, do we get a repeat? With so many other candidates in the race, does that benefit Romney or does one of these conservatives, does one of these conservatives has been the defining question since day one of the Republican race, does one candidate emerge as the conservative alternative?
At the moment, you have several trying. No one has grabbed that trophy.
One of the most interesting things we have been doing tonight is watching -- as the candidates are speaking, we have a focus group of undecided Republican voters in Charleston, South Carolina, who we have assembled. They're actually watching the speeches as well.
As the bottom of the screen when the candidates have been speaking, you have been seeing their real-time reactions.
Tom Foreman is standing by with that group.
Tom, really interesting to watch the reactions. We watched it on the Mitt Romney speech and also Ron Paul. What did we learn about their reaction to Mitt Romney speaking tonight?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think, Anderson, one of the things we learned here tonight is exactly what John was talking about a minute ago.
There is a struggle going on between voters here who may want a more conservative candidate, but most of all want to win, and they're trying to figure out who can do that. These are all of our folks here. They have been sitting here watching all the speeches patiently tonight here at the College of Charleston and they have been using these little boxes the whole time, where they have dialed back and forth to show whether they approved or disapproved of what they were hearing.
All of that was feeding into the computers over here run by Southern Methodist University where they're analyzing all the data and showing us what it adds up to. I want you to look at the results when Mitt Romney hit his stride in the middle of his speech talking about what this president has done and what he will do.
Listen and look at the lines, Anderson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president has enacted job-killing regulations. I will eliminate them. He lost our AAA credit rating. I will restore it. He passed Obamacare. I will repeal it.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ROMNEY: And when -- and when it comes to the economy, my highest priority as president will be worrying about your job, not about saving my own.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: One of the things we heard from this group early on, Anderson, was that many of the people here want to make sure they win, although, interestingly enough, many in the group, all undecided, had a generally favorable view of Newt Gingrich and some of the conservatives.
But winning really counts for this group, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, absolutely, no question about that. This is probably the only time in my life that I have not been able to decide who that candidate is going to be at this point.
FOREMAN: Because winning is that important?
Do you agree with this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody has got to win. I'm not really sure about the question.
FOREMAN: Do you feel -- are you willing to, as this group said -- so many in the group here said, even if their first choice isn't selected, they will vote for the Republican nominee because they so much want to win. Are you one of those people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I don't get Ron Paul, I'm going Obama at this point.
FOREMAN: Oh, really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's just me.
FOREMAN: You would change that much.
All right, well, let's talk about Ron Paul, because you raise an interesting point here.
Many of the people here, when Ron Paul went negative, Anderson, talking about war -- you remember him talking that part where he started I am really upset about the war and all this? When he did that, this audience did not like it. Maybe you did, but not everybody else.
Take a look at this part, Anderson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They claim it's a moral responsibility to take our young people, put them into the military, and send them hither and yon around the world.
It is this liberty movement, which is seen as a patriotic movement, an individual liberty movement, that is saying to the country and to the world, we've had enough of sending our kids and our money around the world to be the policemen of the world. It's the time to bring them home.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Most of the people in this room, Anderson, would say, contrary to our one friend over there, that they are going to back the Republican candidate, even if it's not their first choice. And they don't seem to like that kind of talk they heard there.
What about you? Are you going to back whoever gets it, whether or not it's your first choice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Whoever wins the Republican nomination has got my vote.
FOREMAN: And that will make a difference. And do you think there is this enthusiasm here for that idea?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. I think that people are really tired of the last three years, and everybody is ready for a fresh conservative face.
FOREMAN: OK. Let me ask you one last question if I can come over here to you.
When you talk about the idea of a conservative voter, that obviously -- if you're Newt Gingrich, if you're Rick Santorum, you're coming down here and you're saying I have to get that conservative vote to say I want a conservative above all else.
And yet so many people here, the dynamics on Mitt Romney were, people seem to think he can win. What do you think about that? Do you feel like you want a certain type of candidate or are you just going to go for the winning candidate?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm definitely going to go for the winning candidate, but I just -- I'm a little skeptical of Mitt Romney. I think what he's saying is what we all want to hear. I just don't know if I believe him yet.
FOREMAN: Oh, Anderson, listen to that. Isn't that an interesting point here, this idea of people saying, I want to believe this guy, I just want to know if he's authentic?
COOPER: I wonder, was anybody's mind changed tonight? Before, we said these were all undecided voters. Clearly, at least one guy has made up his mind already, the Ron Paul supporter, but it seems like most of them are undecided.
Has anyone's mind been changed tonight?
FOREMAN: That's a great question.
Anderson has a question for all of you. The question is, you all came in their undecided. We know one fellow over here has made up his mind. All of you were undecided to begin with. How many of you feel that you're closer, closer to making up your mind right now?
Really? Wow. And how many of you feel you have made up your mind? Look at that, a few more in there. We will try to come back later on and explain a little bit more, Anderson, as to why they made up their mind, because this is interesting how many of you said it made a difference to you.
But if you watched those lines, if you watched the dial test and how they reacted, you could see how men and women saw it somewhat differently, but clearly saw some things they liked in all of this -- Anderson.
COOPER: I will be interested to know also, if they have made up their mind, who they made up their mind for, which way it's gone. We will check in with you a little bit later for that.
Tom, let's go over to the social media wall.
Brooke Baldwin is standing by over there.
Brooke, what are you monitoring?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson Cooper, we have been sitting in the cube and we have been sort of mulling through other major moments in Mitt Romney's speech tonight.
We have been looking for other moments that will certainly be the headline tomorrow morning. Obviously, number one is the fact that he won the tonight in New Hampshire, but point number two, Romney on the attack. Right off the bat, he attacked the president, also attacking other Republicans. Who, he didn't say. Listen for the crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial. And in the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: You hear the ooh, and he's referring to these desperate Republicans wanting to join in that fight. And who he doesn't specifically mention, but a lot of us thought, OK, Newt Gingrich. Newt Gingrich is the first person getting on kind of this class warfare bandwagon you don't often hear among Republicans, calling him a predatory capitalist earlier in the week.
Here is what I want to show you when it comes to social media. I'm going to bring up some numbers. That moment, that precise moment in that speech happened at 8:31. Giving you a perspective, take a look at this huge long green line. This is all the positive tweets coming in basically from the half-hour before he said that, huge positive. Probably a lot is due to the fact that he was projected the winner. Let me show you, by forwarding the graphic, look at the red. Some of the negativity increases, but what we noticed is it's not a huge amount of red. So not a lot of people reacted too negatively to that. In fact, some people liked what he said.
I'm going to clear that out and I want to read for you three tweets I think that sort of prove the point. And we're wondering -- these are the moments we could see in the papers. Some of these people -- this guy is a conservative.
And here's what Ryan Duffy tweeted: "After tonight, I doubt any Republican hopeful ever says another word about Romney's private sector experience."
He's saying, don't mess with Mitt Romney. Perhaps he's his candidate.
Let me advance this. And this is Katrina. She's the editor and publishing of a left-leaning magazine. And perhaps this is the question she's asking as she's writing her article right now: "Romney castigates desperate Republicans drowned down by a resentment of successes."
That's what he said.
Her question: "Attacking GOP opponents for waging class warfare? Possibly."
One more tweet. And this is from a freelance journalist in Washington. He's saying: "Romney: Bitter politics of envy. Take that, Newt. How dare you speak ill of me after my super PACs smothered you in the negative ads?"
You know covered Iowa. You know what happened with Newt Gingrich in Iowa?
And so perhaps this is sort of the foreshadowing of what we might see in, say, a South Carolina paper tomorrow morning. And Mitt Romney could be saying, great, don't mess with me.
COOPER: All right, Brooke Baldwin, we will continue to check in with you a little bit later on.
Let's go to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, thanks.
We're also getting Democratic reaction to Mitt Romney's win. We know the Democrats, a lot of them, they have been going after Mitt Romney now for months. By all accounts, they fear Mitt Romney the most, the greatest challenge, potentially, to the reelection of President Obama.
We're going to hear what Democrats are saying to the Mitt Romney win in New Hampshire when we come back.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney wins in New Hampshire. Ron Paul is second, Jon Huntsman comes in third. So let's go to reaction among Democrats back in Washington. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin. She's over at the White House right now.
Democrats are reacting. We know, Jessica, they've been worried about Mitt Romney for a long time. What are you hearing tonight?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they frankly expect to run against Mitt Romney in the general election. They expect that he'll become the nominee. And I've been talking to top sources in the Obama campaign, in the Democratic world, and they're looking at two different numbers.
One is the overall turnout of Republicans. Their argument is, if there's enormous enthusiasm on the Republican side, they believe that you will see a greater -- you should see greater turnout among Republicans in New Hampshire this time than four years ago. So they're looking to see what that ultimate number is.
The other thing is they're looking to see Romney's margin of victory. And they argue that will till them, one, how successful these attacks on his record as a jobs creator have been; and how successful his candidacy or how strong his candidacy will be going forward.
As you know, they believe that the overall case Romney has to make for his candidacy is that he has a record as a jobs creator at Bain, and over the last week, Republicans have just torn away at that case.
One Obama aide said to me tonight, quote, "Romney may have won New Hampshire, but the premise of his candidacy began to unravel in the last 48 hours."
Now, remember, it's only in the last week that Republicans started attacking Romney, so tonight's results are the first time that we would have any results reflecting these attacks. So they'll be looking at that.
Now, the big question I'm always asked, I keep getting asked is will this move up the start date -- could it move up the start date of the general election? And Democratic aides say we can't know until South Carolina. And I have been in touch, finally, with a very senior Republican operative in this town, who is officially neutral but believes Romney will be the nominee. And this person says he also believes that the Gingrich effort in South Carolina could really hamper Romney's momentum, and so this thing could go on a lot longer, South Carolina, Florida. We'll have to wait and see, Wolf.
BLITZER: He's -- the president has been doing a lot of campaigning already, a lot of fundraising. I think he did two fund- raising events in Washington last night. He's heading to Chicago. Is that right? He's going there tomorrow? What's that all about? YELLIN: He has three fund-raising events in Chicago tomorrow. The president continues to hit the road to raise money. So is the vice president. They are looking to raise money because they're afraid of the amount of money Republicans are raising in their super PACs and then all these events that they'll be doing, as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jessica Yellin is over at the White House. Let's walk over to our team over here.
Anderson, you and the rest of our viewers will be thrilled to know, guess who's here?
COOPER: Piers Morgan.
BLITZER: Piers Morgan, how good is that?
PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: The evening has finally come alive, Wolf.
BLITZER: You're -- you're getting -- you're getting ready at midnight eastern for a very special show. Give us a little treat.
MORGAN: I just interviewed Rick Perry, actually. Fascinating interview, because I mean, the guy came fifth -- he's come sixth tonight. He's fifth in the polls in South Carolina. He's defiant. And he's saying, look...
COOPER: Where is he tonight?
MORGAN: He's in South Carolina. Interesting interview. And I think people made their own minds up, but the guy is not giving up. And you've got to admire him for that alone.
Six candidates and nobody giving up tonight at all. So I don't know what they think is going to happen in South Carolina. It looks to me, we said this last week, that wonderful night we all had, that you know, a win is a win. Two wins are two wins. And Mitt Romney is on the march. It is hard to see who is going to stop him. I don't think Ron Paul is that guy.
KING: You just wrote the second headline of the night. Romney gets his win. He deserves the credit for that. We'll see what the final margin is, but it's an impressive win.
The second headline is no one is getting out. We lost one candidate after Iowa. With nobody getting out, that means, again, the question from day one, who emerges as the alternative, the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney? If we don't answer that question with one name, Mitt Romney is your nominee.
BLITZER: The fact that no one is getting out is good news for Mitt Romney.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, evangelical -- evangelical leaders are having a meeting over the weekend, and they're going to try and decide, should they -- should they endorse somebody who is the anti-Mitt Romney? And it's unclear what will -- what will come out of that meeting. I think that would be very important to head into South Carolina.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at the numbers in Iowa, you look at Rick Santorum getting the evangelical and Tea Party vote. In New Hampshire, Mitt Romney got that vote. Obviously, a very different electorate, but he did win it.
Now you look at South Carolina, again, a state where evangelicals dominate. It will be interesting to see whether that clouds their choice.
COOPER: It's easy to paint evangelicals with a broad brush. I mean, as you heard from those undecided voters tonight, Republicans want to win. So beyond sending a message, beyond, you know, kind of sending a message to the conservative wing of the party, they want to beat Barack Obama, and they want a candidate who can do that.
MORGAN: It's better to have one candidate that takes on Romney now, isn't it? A party, to have an ideological debate.
BORGER: It's not better for Romney.
MORGAN: A debate that lasts a few months. If you're Barack Obama, you want this over, don't you, because then you can go against one guy...?
MORGAN: Keep an eye on it. The whole point last time, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were going at it, was actually, that wasn't good for the Republicans. Because all the chatter was about these two Democrats.
KING: That long prolonged battle that time made Obama a much better candidate. He learned from his mistakes.
The question is do Republicans get a better candidate if you fight it out? Obama has the advantage of doing all this fund-raising. But Dana, you know this. The history of South Carolina, everyone says it's a lot of Tea Party voters. They don't necessarily love Romney. A lot of evangelicals, they don't necessarily love Romney. They have a history of being the pragmatic establishment Republican state that says enough already.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. You had that point last week. You said that whatever happens in New Hampshire tonight is going to have an enormous influence in South Carolina.
And I do think what's important about coming out of this tonight is that Romney goes into South Carolina as the strong frontrunner, and that there is no single challenger now who has emerged.
The wild card, and I don't think anybody can judge this yet, is that Newt Gingrich has got $3.5 million to dump out negative advertising on Romney in South Carolina. The hits on Bain didn't seem to take much -- have much impact here. I can't see ending those here.
BORGER: He wants the...
GERGEN: Mary Matalin was making a point about a Bush background among the conservatives, but we don't know is, in the next 10 days, if he dumps a lot of money there, will it make a difference?
BORGER: But you have 9.9 percent unemployment in South Carolina. Lots of shuttered mills and you have this -- these ads about Mitt Romney is a corporate raider and a job killer.
GERGEN: It's also a very business friendly state. I believe Spartanburg is a very, very business friendly...
BORGER: It's hard to know how it's going to play. Exactly.
MORGAN: Newt Gingrich is going to rip Mitt Romney's throat out, isn't he, when he goes there?
KING: Tonight, he didn't say one word.
MORGAN: With this $3.5 million he's got. He's going to do it the way that Romney has been doing it to him.
BURNETT: The perception, when you look at the exit polls, was clear that viewers perceived Gingrich as ran the most negative campaign in New Hampshire. Now, Romney as a close second, but what was interesting was, of the voters who perceived Newt Gingrich to run a negative campaign, they overwhelmingly voted for Mitt Romney.
BORGER: But Newt didn't spent money in New Hampshire. That's what's so interesting. It was just the free media. Newt came out and started going after Mitt Romney, but he spent just like $10,000 or so.
KING: Look, all the others knew Mitt Romney had the state wired. The question was his margin.
But Erin just made a very important point. The Gingrich super PAC is going after Romney on Bain Capital. The Gingrich campaign is going after Romney. They're rerunning 2008: He's a social liberal. You can't trust him. Don't believe him. They're running an abortion ad. That was the campaign in 2008.
South Carolina also has a history, the voters, the establishment, Republican Party have a history of sort of calling it. They like to take pride in picking nominees. But the campaigns, the underbelly of the South Carolina campaign, often gets very ugly. That's where we heard "Mormon" last time. Will we hear that in the next ten days?
GERGEN: John, John, would you argue that South Carolina is the fire ball? That Romney gets through that fireball, he's picked? KING: Well, we've had a momentum race so far, and he made history tonight. No non-incumbent, no person who's not the president of the United States has ever won Iowa and then New Hampshire. New Hampshire and Iowa compete with each other. Somebody wins in Iowa, New Hampshire says, "Oh, no." That's the history of the process. No one has ever done what he has done.
Now, you can say he only won by eight votes. He won. And now he won New Hampshire with a good victory tonight. If he wins South Carolina, Gingrich may stand up, Perry may stand up and say this is about delegates. Can they raise money? And Mitt Romney has a very good organization on the ground in Florida. His money will not dry up. It's hard.
MORGAN: How worried should we be about the turnout tonight? If it turns out to be low, isn't that concerning?
GERGEN: We know it's not low. We don't know whether it's going to be over what it was last time. We know pretty well it's going to be close to four years or higher.
BURNETT: The bar is he needs to do better. He's now done better than he did last time. He's done better than John McCain did last time. And yet, you start hearing people saying, well, he needed to do even better. What is the bar that 's acceptable?
BLITZER: He won in Iowa, albeit very, very narrow. He's won now in New Hampshire. Off to South Carolina. All eyes on South Carolina.
We're going to go to South Carolina in a moment. Tom Foreman is there with a focus group. They were all undecided going into this evening, but several of them have now made up their minds. We're anxious to hear how they decided to vote. We'll get to Tom and our focus group in Charleston, South Carolina, right after this.
BLITZER: Seventy-eight percent of the precincts have now reported officially. Let's take a look at the votes right now.
We know Mitt Romney is the winner. He's got 38 percent. Just changed. 70,191. He's about 27,000 votes ahead of Ron Paul, who's come in second with 23 percent, 42,500. Jon Huntsman come in third, 17 percent, 31,000.
There's a battle underway for fourth place, very close between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, both with 10 percent: 17,661 for Newt Gingrich; 17,560 for Rick Santorum. Only about 100 votes separating Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for fourth place. Rick Perry not doing so well, 1 percent, 1,300 votes or so.
Let's go to Candy Crowley right now. She's at Romney headquarters, which is, I take it, pretty empty. We heard from him a few hours ago. He was the first to speak out of the gate. He was a pretty happy guy tonight. He did well in what is almost his home state of New Hampshire. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: He absolutely did. And you're right, pretty much, you're looking at who's sitting in this ballroom at this particular point.
So let's -- look, it's hard to take away that this was a good -- this wasn't just a win; this was a solid win for Romney. Can we look at this going forward and say South Carolina ends it one way or the other?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Mitt Romney will have momentum in South Carolina. He had home court advantage here in New Hampshire. In South Carolina, he'll win likely, because the conservatives will split their vote, and Mitt Romney will once again be able to come on top.
The real test is whether or not, after January 31, if the Republican candidates can still coral the voters, can they still raise the money, and can they compete for delegates? I don't believe they can if Mitt Romney sews it up in South Carolina.
CROWLEY: Except for Ron Paul can keep going, can't he? Because that's a movement. That's not so much a presidential campaign as a movement.
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He's not really taking votes away from Romney. The Libertarian vote seems to be younger, and not liberal, liberal. But...
CROWLEY: He can collect delegates, is my point.
MATALIN: He can collect delegates, but he stayed in last time all the way till the end, and it didn't slow down McCain. What -- what Romney needs to do now, the country heard for the first time tonight what looked like a very presidential write-up against Obama. No matter that he's not breaking the ceiling, necessarily, tonight, still, even people who are informed continue to say that he's the most electable and that's what's important to him.
So if he keeps -- and every speech he does, each step that he takes, he sounds like a better and better full-spectrum conservative. I'm saying this from somebody who's trying to hear it. And he really hit the high notes and all the sweet spots. And if he keeps doing that and let all these guys throw stink bombs at him. They'll do so with an abortion commercial in South Carolina. See how that dog's going to punch (ph) any more. Just keep being more conservative.
CROWLEY: Because in the end, I want to talk about South Carolina. We keep talking about the evangelical Christians and the conservative vote, and then you think, well, last time around, they had the choice between Mike Huckabee and John McCain, and they went for McCain. So this is not unfriendly territory to Mitt Romney, who by the way, is leading in the polls.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. And it's important to remember: Romney last time came in fourth place in South Carolina. He was really focusing his fire on Florida at that time. But as you said, John McCain did win, and South Carolina is a much more complex state than some of the stereotypes. You know, it has a changing demographic, especially in the coastal areas, and Mitt Romney can compete. He's coming with enormous momentum.
What he's trying to do is run the table on this January gauntlet, something that's really impressive, that no one's really been able to pull off before. And even though it's a march to 1,100 delegates, that puts him in a very strong position.
The real interesting question is, you know I think it's clear, Ron Paul is running to promote idea as much as he's running for president, and he can go on almost indefinitely. The question is, as the rest of the field winnows, will folks fall into line behind Mitt Romney, or will one candidate be able to solidify that 75 percent that seems to have wanted other people? Because this is a candidate, a campaign that certainly the crowd tonight is fired up and focused on the general election.
CROWLEY: So long as there are debates, and there are debates coming forward. CNN has some. Others have some. You don't need a lot of money. You can run on fumes, can't you? I mean, they can propel people into Florida if they want.
BRAZILE: At some point, CNN is going to start taking the pulse of the Republican Party and start looking at where the delegates are lining up. Because after all, if they want to be nominated to go up against President Obama, you have to accumulate over 1,100 delegates.
And most of those delegates will not be chosen until mid-March on the Republican side. So -- so there's still a race ahead, but Mitt Romney clearly has momentum going into the next round of contests.
MATALIN: I don't think this hurts him. He's been -- he's providing a consistent candidacy. The longer it goes, the better he gets. I -- I'm going to hold that view.
AVLON: Second state.
CROWLEY: John Avlon, Mary Matalin, Donna Brazile, thank you for being here tonight. Appreciate it.
BRAZILE: We have better music. Let me just say that. As a Democrat, the Republicans finally figured out how to pick a tune that I can listen to.
CROWLEY: Donna is a happy person, and as a memento, Wolf, I have to tell you that Donna got in wearing a Mitt Romney volunteer pass. OK? So bipartisanship lives.
BLITZER: That's good to know. All right. Thanks very much, Candy, and everyone else over there.
I want to go over to Anderson Cooper right now. He's got some -- some of our analysts standing by. You know what's nice to see, Anderson? I'm anxious to hear what our experts think about this. At least in Iowa and New Hampshire, it doesn't look like there was a lot of religious prejudice against Mormons when you take a look at Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. They did well. And all of those fears that a lot of Mormons probably had that these guys were going to do poorly because of their religion, prejudice against Mormons, I don't see it happening, at least not yet.
COOPER: Yes, yes. The question, of course, is what happens in South Carolina. We have seen that in the past. Let's talk about where the race moves in South Carolina. Is there any way that if Mitt Romney wins in South Carolina, that this race is not over?
ARI FLEISCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's necessarily over because Mitt Romney still has a large bloc of people that are anti-Romney. So the question is, can it get down to a one- on-one race, and when that happens, is it too late?
And the other thing is you just have to look at the calendar. There will not be, even if there's nobody in the race, anybody who gets 50 percent until late April. That's the proportion, the way the votes are laid out. So once it gets down to one-on-one, anything could still happen in this race. Having said that, Mitt Romney is off to a great start.
DANA LOESCH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The field has to shrink, and the field has to shrink in South Carolina. If you keep -- if you have the conservatives in the primary divided, it works out very well for the moderate candidate. And so, depending on how the South Carolina results are, some of these candidates are going to have to drop out.
COOPER: And as a Tea Party activist, where's your head at right now?
LOESCH: And I hear that...
COOPER: You were sort of depressed last week.
LOESCH: Grassroots are depressed. Everybody is kind of sad, because they've been out protesting for several years and getting involved in their communities, and here it's the health-care election, it's the economy election, and who do we have as our top guys? Our top guy, even as he put it together at the state, the president federalized his blue print. So that's what we're running. It's just -- it's still too early. It's too early to fall in line, but something has to happen in South Carolina.
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The Tea Party is not -- if you look what happened in 2010, they didn't win state-wide elections. Congressional elections? What? What, the Senate race?
LOESCH: Missouri went red. Missouri went red.
MARTIN: Federal elections. The Tea Party did well in congressional races. You look at those Senate races, didn't do well. It's no shock they're not having a major effect on a presidential candidate. No shock.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The most significant news is not that Mitt Romney got 38 or 39. The most significant news tonight is, for the second time, Iowa and New Hampshire, there's been no uptick in turnout. In fact, the best they can do is match 2012 [SIC].
In 2008, 37 percent of the people who participated were independents. It's up to 47. There is zero evidence of any Republican enthusiasm over '08, which was a disastrous Republican year. I'm sorry, Ari, it was the facts.
FLEISCHER: There's a problem with that. In Iowa, last time Republicans set a record in 2008. They beat it in 2012.
CARVILLE: They barely beat it, and they lost the election.
FLEISCHER: One point. An LSU champion. The point is they had a record 2008, they'd be here now. If there's one trend in turnout, listen to these numbers. President Obama, run unopposed, has 33,000 votes in New Hampshire. The last time a president ran unopposed, George Bush got 68,000 votes in New Hampshire. So where's the Democrats?
CARVILLE: ... Barack Obama. We've got people who are listening at home. We've got to be serious. OK, that's not a serious point, Ari. Again, that's not -- that's not a serious point. The Republicans have to improve their '08 enthusiasm if they're going to capture the presidency. They didn't do it in Iowa.
FLEISCHER: They did do it in Iowa. They got more votes in Iowa this time than last time.
MARTIN: We heard all this talk -- we heard all this talk about the Bain ad and how that's a negative for Republicans. Here's another piece that I think is important in terms of Newt Gingrich, frankly, hasn't done it.
COOPER: You're going to stop that because that was the most exciting thing...
MARTIN: The fact that he said -- three times dismissed his point, I figured no sense having a fourth time. You know, so...
CARVILLE: But that's the significant news. That's not a political consultant that looks at this. I guarantee you that Stu Stevens and Ron Kaufman, they're the guys that are, like, this is not good. And I'm not making a point as a Democrat. It's just not...
FLEISCHER: How do you figure when you beat a record it's not good? Republican turnout was remarkable in 2008. It was up slightly in 2012. I know the numbers.
CARVILLE: I want to try to be serious with our viewers. MARTIN: ... the first time tonight.
CARVILLE: You're supposed to be more enthused than 2008. It was a bad year for Republicans. Go check the returns. You lost the presidency. The Democrats picked up Senate seats. They picked up House seats.
You had a huge turnout in 2010. We're 14 months away, and you're back to your '08 levels. That's not good news. Period, end of argument. It may improve as we get deeper in it, but through the first two, there's not a single person that knows a single thing about campaigns who can say this is a good news for Republican enthusiasm. It just isn't.
LOESCH: I can't wait to see voter intensity for Democrats. It didn't exist in the midterms. Where were they...
CARVILLE: Again, it's inarguable that enthusiasm among Republicans through two elections shows no increase. That's a significant thing. I'm sorry. Democratic -- look, Democrats won the election by 8.5 points. They have more room, there's more tolerance there.
COOPER: I've got to let Ari talk and then I've got to take a break.
FLEISCHER: Well, you've got to put both parties together. There's a real lack of enthusiasm among the Democrats. We're seeing that this cycle.
COOPER: We're going to see how enthusiastic those undecided voters we've been following in South Carolina are, that focus group. A number of them say they have now changed their mind or at least are moving in a certain direction after tonight. We'll see what direction they're moving in, what candidate they're moving toward. We'll be right back.