Rivals round on Romney

MITT Romney faces growing questions about his candidacy for the Republican US presidential nomination despite going into last night’s primary contest as the clear favourite.

The former head of private equity house Bain held onto a significant lead in the final opinion polls for the New Hampshire primary, while the battle for second place appeared to be between libertarian congressman Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, a moderate former US ambassador to China.

Commentators said Romney, a Mormon who edged to victory in the first primary in Iowa last week, needs to finish 10 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival in order to be seen as a strong victor. A nationwide Reuters/Ipsos poll yesterday showed Romney preferred by 30 per cent of Republican voters, way ahead of his rivals. He also has narrowed the gap against President Obama but still trails by five percentage points.

Several of Romney’s Republican opponents have increasingly trained their fire on his time at Bain, giving an indication of how the rest of the primary race will run. Newt Gingrich’s backers have labelled Romney a “predatory corporate raider”.

Romney has won praise, however, for his role helping to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.