Unlike the long night in Iowa, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was on stage declaring victory in the New Hampshire primary at 8:26 p.m., focused not on the other Republican challengers but instead "the disappointing record of a failed president."
The first non-incumbent Republican ever to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Romney sounded it.
Speaking about Americans' "unwavering conviction" that "we know it must be better and it will be better," Romney took the mantle of front-runner with his wife, Ann, and several of his sons behind him on stage in New Hampshire.
"We know that the future of this country is better than unemployment of 8 or 9 percent," Romney said. "The president has run out of ideas. Now he's running out of excuses."
Talking about people who are "dragged down by a resentment of success," Romney referenced the tactics used by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other primary opponents and said, "This is such a mistake for our party and our nation."
Of the coming general election, he continued to rail against Obama, "It's a choice about saving the soul of America."
With about two-thirds of precincts reporting, Romney had nearly 38 percent of the vote. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was coming in second with nearly 24 percent, and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman was coming in third with almost 17 percent of the vote.
Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum were withing votes of one another, fighting for fourth with less than than 10 percent of the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer were garnering less than 1 percent of the vote.
When Paul took to the stage at 9 p.m., he noted the failure of coverage his campaign often receives and that it is called "dangerous," in his words, when it does get covered.
"We are dangerous -- to the status quo of the country," he responded, to loud applause. "And we will remain a danger to the Federal Reserve system as well."
After discussing getting out of wars, Paul shouted to the crowd, "What should the role of government be? The role of government should be simple: protection of liberty!"
At 9:30 p.m., Huntsman took to the stage, shouting, "I'd say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentlemen!"
Calling America the "greatest nation that ever was," he said, "This is about economics, and this is about education, and this is going to play out across the ocean in countries where I've lived." He added that if problems at home are not addressed, "We will see the end of the American century by 2050."
The three first place finishers represent some moderate positions on LGBT issues, with Romney over the weekend saying, "I don't discriminate"; Paul having voted for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal; and Huntsman supporting civil unions.
Such a result is not altogether surprising, when compared with Santorum's near-first place finish in Iowa. New Hampshire's primary, unlike Iowa's caucus, allows independent voters to participate in the Republican nomination process. According to exit poll results reported by NBC, nearly one-third of voters in the Granite State primary were social liberals.
Log Cabin Republicans executive director R. Clarke Cooper said in a statement, "By adding a definitive victory in New Hampshire to his win in Iowa, Governor Mitt Romney has established himself as a candidate who can unite Republicans and a clear threat to Barack Obama in November."
GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia went further, saying in a statement, "No non-incumbent Republican Presidential candidate has ever won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Governor Romney’s wins in both of these contests is an historic achievement and makes it clear that he will be the Republican nominee for President this fall."
Although GOProud has not formally endorse in the race, LaSalvia published an op-ed in the Daily Caller recently personally endorsing Romney. Tonight, on GOProud's behalf, he said, "Tonight, we congratulate Governor Romney on his win in the New Hampshire primary. It is clear that Governor Romney's message of economic renewal for America is resonating with Republican voters across the country."
Of his potential performance on tradition LGBT concerns, LCR's Cooper said, "Governor Romney was consistently clear in the debates that he opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation. While he continues to support a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality -- a position Log Cabin strongly opposes -- he is also on record saying that such an amendment has been tried, rejected, and is unlikely to ever succeed. Romney has also taken a position that the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' has been settled, and he would not seek to reinstitute the ban on open service."
[Image: New Hampshire primary field by Aram Vartian.]