Nightly News   |  January 05, 2012

Romney leaves NH, heads to SC

With five days until New Hampshire voters go to the polls, Mitt Romney had just one brief morning event in the state before heading to South Carolina, leaving his other closest rivals with a captive audience. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

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>>> now in this country to the campaign trail. we're into the season now post iowa where we are never going to be more than a few days away from the next contest which, of course, happens to be the first real primary next tuesday in new hampshire . from there it's on to the critical state of south carolina . nbc's peter alexander is traveling with the new hampshire frontrunner mitt romney who is in charleston, south carolina , tonight. peter, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening to you. the primary in south carolina is more than two weeks away, but it is already looking like it is going to be a brawl. the last stand for the anyone but mitt forces, as one political analyst put it today, in a state that's correctly picked the gop nominee since 1980 . with barely five days until new hampshire voters go to the polls, mitt romney had just one brief morning event there before heading to south carolina leaving his closest rivals with a captive audience of voters. romney 's opponents aimed jabs at the absent frontrunner himself.

>> i don't believe a massachusetts moderate is in a very good position to debate barack obama . i think it would be very hard for him to win the general election .

>> reporter: gingrich who has criticized obama as the, quote, food stamp president for his welfare policies also said this today.

>> i'm prepared if the naacp invites me to go to their convention and talk about why the african-american community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps .

>> reporter: meanwhile, rick santorum riding the surge from the strong iowa finish raising more than $1 million since tuesday ran into a crowd of college students.

>> how does it affect you if two men or two women get married?

>> the law for 230 years was marriage is between a man and a woman.

>> reporter: and john huntsman who has taken up residence in new hampshire since june said he'll exceed expectations.

>> you have to be who you are. people say, throw red meat , sound bites . i don't do that. i believe in ideas. nibble leadership for this country.

>> the things the president is doing kills jobs.

>> reporter: on the ground in south carolina , romney campaigned today with the state's governor, nicky hailey, a tea party favorite.

>> it will be a great day in the country when we see this one-term president turn over to president romney .

>> reporter: rick perry 's presence is being felt. with his supporters continuing to attack both gingrich and romney in south carolina .

>> gingrich found guilty of ethics violations. mitt creates romney -care.

>> reporter: this afternoon a group that supports ron paul released a video questioning john huntsman's american values showing a picture of his adopted daughter from china. that prompted a call for an apology from the huntsman campaign. late this evening the paul campaign called the video offensive. brian?

>> still early. it's turned so nasty already. peter alexander on the campaign trail. thanks.