McCain backs Romney; Perry on to SC

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, endorsed Mitt Romney in New Hampshire on Wednesday. (Source: CNN)
Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, endorsed Mitt Romney in New Hampshire on Wednesday. (Source: CNN)
Rick Perry will continue his campaign
Rick Perry will continue his campaign

By Matt Quillen - email

(RNN) - Former Republican nominee John McCain endorsed Mitt Romney for president at a campaign stop in New Hampshire Wednesday.

"New Hampshire is the state that will catapult him onto victory in a very short time," McCain told a crowd of supporters. "That's why I'm here."

The state has been good to McCain. The Arizona Senator won the primary there in 2000 over George W. Bush, and again in 2008, eventually becoming the GOP nominee.

McCain also told the crowd Wednesday President Barack Obama "couldn't hide from his record," and the damage done during his presidency they would "restore with Mitt Romney as president."

Romney had endorsed McCain after dropping out of the 2008 Republican primary.

With the historically tight race in Iowa complete, most Republican presidential candidates moved their focus this week to New Hampshire. But some planned to skip the nation's first primary and campaign for the next one in South Carolina.

After some uncertainty from Texas Gov. Rick Perry's camp, he stated on Twitter, "The next leg of the marathon is the Palmetto State... here we come South Carolina!" 

One candidate did bow out of the race Wednesday. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann held a news conference to announce she would "stand aside," suspending her campaign.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears to have a strong hold on New Hampshire's primary, scheduled for Jan. 10. According to a Suffolk University/7 News poll released Tuesday, his lead, at 43 percent, is 27 points ahead of second place.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas sits at 16 percent in the poll, with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in third at 10 percent.

Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, received 9 percent, and Rick Santorum got 5 percent. Bachmann and Perry both hovered around 2 percent.

Romney thanked a roomful of supporters Tuesday night at a post-caucus rally and congratulated the two runners-up, Santorum and Paul.

"All three of us will be campaigning very hard to make sure we restore the heart and soul of the entire nation," he said. "Thank you Iowa for the great sendoff you are giving to us and the others in this campaign. This is a campaign night where America wins. We are going to change the White House and get America back on track."

Romney defeated Santorum, the former governor of Pennsylvania, by a mere eight votes in the Iowa caucuses. Both garnered roughly 25 percent of the votes; Romney took 30,015 votes and Santorum had 30,007, according to the AP.

Santorum told his Iowa supporters they had "taken the first step of taking back this country."

Paul placed third in the caucuses with more than 21 percent. He was followed by Newt Gingrich (13 percent), Perry (10 percent), Michele Bachmann (5 percent) and Jon Huntsman (0.6 percent).

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