Voters in the U.S. state of New Hampshire are preparing to vote in the
2012 presidential race's first primary election, with front-runner Mitt
Romney heavily favored to beat his Republican challengers.
Social conservative Rick Santorum, who lost to Romney by only eight
votes last week in the Iowa caucuses, said Monday he would be thrilled
to come in second to the former Massachusetts governor.
But the latest
opinion polls suggest that second place may go to Texas Congressman Ron
Still, the Republican presidential hopefuls Monday had not given up on
trying to dissuade voters from choosing Romney, intensifying their
attacks during last-minute campaigning.
Much of the criticism has centered around Romney's previous career
running a private investment firm where he made millions of dollars.
Many people say Romney's firm laid off hundreds of employees from
companies it bought, while making large profits for the investors.
And many political analysts think the primary election in South Carolina
next week will reveal whether the moderate Romney can rally the support
of conservative voters.
the candidates have been seeking to highlight their conservative
credentials against the more liberal President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Two other major contenders for the Republican nomination are Texas
Governor Rick Perry and the former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon
Huntsman. Neither of them is seen as likely to win a significant number
of votes in the New Hampshire poll.
New poll numbers released Monday show Romney with a 12-point lead in
Florida, the next primary after South Carolina. But the Quinnipiac
University poll also shows that more than 50 percent of Republican
voters say they might change their minds and choose a candidate
perceived as more conservative.