CNN, Fox News and MSNBC all called the result early in favour of the former Massachusetts governor, who is now the clear favourite to take on President Barack Obama in November after back-to-back victories here and in Iowa.
Huntsman, a former Utah governor who was Obama’s envoy to China before entering the race, would finish a disappointing third behind Paul, a veteran Texas congressman with libertarian leanings, the US networks said. Romney, the first non-incumbent in recent memory to win both the opening contests of a presidential nomination battle, told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Manchester: “Tonight, we made history!”
“We do remember when Barack Obama came to New Hampshire four years ago, he promised to bring people together, promised to change the broken system in Washington, promised to improve our nation,” Romney said.
“Those were the days of lofty promises made by a hopeful candidate. Today, we’re faced with a disappointing records of a failed president.” With 27 per cent of polling stations reporting, Romney held 36 per cent of the vote, well ahead of Paul on 25 per cent, with Huntsman trailing in third on 17 per cent.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Christian conservative favourite Rick Santorum, a former US senator, were duelling it out for fourth place with 10 per cent each of the early vote.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who fared poorly in Iowa, gave up on New Hampshire, and is pinning his hopes on South Carolina, which votes next on January 21, was projected to win just one per cent
of the vote.