Romney Strengthens Lead, Becomes Target for Rivals

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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- One day before the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney appears poised for a big victory.

The former Massachusetts governor is bringing in big names like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help close the deal.

Polls have consistently shown Romney to be on top in the state. If that's still the case Tuesday, the big question is -- who will finish second?

Some predict the runner-up will be former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who virtually tied Romney in last week's Iowa caucuses by winning over evangelicals. This week, Santorum has seen large crowds, with prayer coming from his supporters.
 
"Lord, we thank you for Rick," one person prayed at a gathering outside one New Hampshire pharmacy. "We pray your blessing upon him."

Click play to watch David Brody's report followed by analysis from Regent University distinguished professor of government Charles Dunn.
 
With fewer evangelicals here, however, Santorum has an uphill climb. That leaves an opening for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Gov. Jon Huntsman, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Even though Romney says he's the best bet to beat President Barack Obama, voters are still searching for a candidate they believe is more conservative and one who can be trusted. Like a super hero, that person is being called the "Anti-Romney."

"I think a lot of us are not quite ready to settle for Mitt Romney," New Hampshire resident John Coolidge told CBN News.

"We would like to see somebody who is a little more conservative," he said. "So what you hear about all the time, is 'anybody but Mitt Romney.'"

Rivals Target Romney

Two debates this weekend gave challengers the chance to gang up on Romney and make the case that he's not conservative enough.

"We want someone who is going to stand up and fight for the conservative principle, not bail out and not run to the left of Ted Kennedy," Santorum charged.

"You have to choose someone who has not been a life-long politician," Romney shot back. "Who has not spent his entire career in Washington and instead has proven time and again he can lead in the private sector twice, in the Olympics, and as a governor."

"Well, if his record was so great as governor of Massachusetts, why didn't you run for re-election?" Santorum challenged Romney.

"This for me -- politics -- is not a career," Romney said. "For me, my career was being in business and starting a business and making it successful. My life's passion has been my family, my faith, and my country."

'Pious Bologna'

Gingrich dismissed Romney's words as "pious bologna."

"The fact is, you ran in '94 and lost," the former House speaker said. "That's why you weren't serving in the Senate with Rick Santorum."

Other candidates, seeking to highlight the conservative alternative, also piled on.

"He's a big-government, big-spending individual because he preached the fact that he wanted a federal balanced budget amendment, but he raised the debt five times," Paul noted.

"I'm a conservative, I'm not a libertarian," Santorum said. "I believe in some government." 
 
Overall, these debates leave Romney still in command and many political observers wondering if anyone can stop him.

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David Brody

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David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at Facebook.com/TheBrodyFile.