.- The Republican presidential candidates urged fidelity to America’s founding principles as they spoke at the New Hampshire primary and turned their sights to the upcoming vote in South Carolina.
“In difficult times, we can’t abandon the core values that define us as a unique nation,” said primary winner Mitt Romney. “We are one nation under God.”
The candidates addressed Republican voters on Jan. 10, the evening of the nation's first primary election in New Hampshire.
Economic issues dominated the speeches, as candidates promised to institute policies that would reduce the national debt and unemployment rates. But several candidates also appealed to faith in their talks.
Romney, who won almost 40 percent of the primary votes, said that the election is not merely about choosing a president, but about “saving the soul of America” from being fundamentally altered from its founding principles.
He vowed to undo what he called President Barack Obama’s harmful policies, arguing that “the last three years have held a lot of change, but they haven’t offered much hope.”
The GOP frontrunner appealed to America’s faith in a better future, saying, “We still believe in that shining city on a hill.”
After a strong performance in Iowa, Rick Santorum won only about 10 percent of the votes in New Hampshire, finishing fifth.
However, the former Pennsylvania senator promised to continue to “campaign in every single state,” working to promote a message based on “faith and family as the bedrock of our society.”
Santorum stressed the need to promote and protect families, which he said serve to “instill virtue and faith in our children” in order to solve problems in society.
Texas congressman Ron Paul placed second in the state primary, capturing 23 percent of the vote.
In his speech, Paul insisted that he is the best candidate to protect liberty in America. He urged a return to the fundamental question, “What should the role of government be in a free society?”
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who skipped the Iowa caucuses, came in third in New Hampshire with approximately 17 percent of the vote.
Huntsman declared that third place is “a ticket to ride,” and said he would remain in the contest and turn his attention to the upcoming South Carolina primary.
Candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry both fell in their rankings, winning about 10 and 1 percent of the vote, respectively. Both candidates, however, vowed to continue the race.
Although Romney holds a steady lead as the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary approaches, recent polls indicate that Santorum may be closing in on him.
A Jan. 5 Rasmussen poll of likely South Carolina voters showed Santorum with 24 percent of the vote, up from just one percent two months ago.
The poll indicates that Romney has the support of 27 percent of likely voters in the state, while Gingrich comes in third with 18 percent.
Recent polls by the American Research Group and Public Policy Polling also suggest that Santorum and Gingrich will surge ahead towards Romney in South Carolina, with the other candidates trailing significantly behind.