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Bachmann Out, Remaining Contenders Focus on New Hampshire

George Severson

Bachmann Out, Remaining Contenders Focus on New Hampshire

CREATED Jan. 4, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Michele Bachmann has ended her presidential campaign -- leaving her supporters up for grabs as Rick Santorum tries to become the conservative heavyweight in the Republican race.

Santorum's near-tie with Iowa caucus winner Mitt Romney topped a rise from deep in the polls to contender for the presidential nomination.

Santorum is counting on momentum -- and perhaps help from outside groups -- to carry him to victory in New Hampshire and beyond.

The little-known Republican presidential candidate doesn't have much of a staff in most states. He doesn't have the kind of money his competitors have. And he doesn't have much time to fix those deficiencies. New Hampshire's primary is six days away, and the race quickly turns to South Carolina, Florida and other states where candidates historically need big organizations and big bank accounts to prevail.

Bachmann said Wednesday she has "decided to stand aside" but would continue fighting to overturn what she called President Barack Obama's "socialist policies."

Like Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry took a blow in the caucuses -- finishing fifth. He flew home to decide whether to stay in the race. It appears the answer is "yes." He tweeted Wednesday that he was bound for South Carolina.

Meanwhile, Romney jetted to New Hampshire to continue campaigning.

Newt Gingrich is breaking his vow to run a positive campaign. In what's essentially Mitt Romney's home turf of New Hampshire, Gingrich criticized the Republican front-runner for a checkered GOP past.

Gingrich says he's been a strong conservative.

He says Romney was once an independent and claims that Romney repudiated Reagan-Bush. Gingrich said Romney voted for Paul Tsongas (SAWN'-guhs), who Gingrich says was the most liberal candidate in the 1993 campaign.

Gingrich also says Romney "ran to the left of Teddy Kennedy" in a Senate race.

Gingrich argued that Romney became a moderate to run for governor in 2002. He also criticized Romney for signing a health care overhaul into law in Massachusetts.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is rallying campaign volunteers by saying he can smell success in New Hampshire -- and by showing off his presidential campaign's first television ad.

The ad features Huntsman declaring that, in his words, "we are getting screwed as Americans." The spot goes on to offer him as a strong leader.

Previewing the ad at Huntsman's Manchester headquarters on Wednesday, campaign manager Matt David said New Hampshire will push Huntsman onward to Florida.

David predicts Florida will be a turning point in the Huntsman campaign.