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Romney Holds Lead As New Hampshire Primary Arrives

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, last week.
The U.S. state of New Hampshire is holding the first primary vote in the contest to pick the Republican Party's nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in November's presidential election.

Although only 12 nominating delegates are at stake in the New Hampshire primary, the vote is seen as influential because of the large amount of media attention the top-finishing candidates can receive as the nomination battle intensifies.

Opinion polls show former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who narrowly won last week's Iowa Republican caucuses, continuing to hold the lead.

In recent days, Romney has faced increasing criticism from his rivals over reported job cuts and profit-taking that occurred at companies he controlled when he was chief of a private venture-capital firm.

As part of his campaign, Romney has portrayed himself as a savvy businessman who knows how to create jobs.

The candidates trailing Romney in the opinion polls include Texas Representative Ron Paul, former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

compiled from agency reports

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