NASHUA, N.H. As New Hampshire voters continue to go to their polling places today, White House hopeful Mitt Romney is optimistic he will win, but also covering his bases if he does not.
At a series of polling place visits this morning, Romney said he is hearing from previously undecided voters that they voted for him and also pins his optimism on the weekend's debate.
"At this stage I am feeling awfully darn good." Romney said "The hands I shake here, time and again people say, 'I was undecided. I've now decided to vote for you,"' Romney said. "Those are good signs for us."
But at the same time he says he is hoping for his "gold medal win" today a nod to his time spent running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City he stresses that if he doesn't win, the race is far from over.
"I know that at the end of the night I will have almost certainly received more votes for president than anyone else on the Republican side," Romney said during a stop at a polling place in Salem. "So win or lose, we are on to Michigan, and we are going to win some more primaries, and we are going to be able to win this nomination."
There is huge voter turnout in New Hampshire, with at least one polling place reportedly running out of Democrat ballots. The general interest in the election, paired with unseasonably warm weather, brought jammed parking lots of cars.
From New Hampshire, the Romney campaign will head for an event in Michigan, where he grew up and where Romney's father was governor.
"I think I can connect with Michigan," Romney said. "Michigan is very personal for me, and so I think I will be able to do well there."
But after New Hampshire, the next test will be South Carolina, which always has been deemed as a test for Romney to see if evangelicals would come out to support the former Massachusetts governor, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Republican candidates will debate there Thursday.
"I think it gives him a good start in South Carolina," Romney said of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's popularity with evangelicals, which was obvious as he won last week's Iowa caucus. "I can't tell you how it will play out there.
"I believe that people in South Carolina will decide, as most Americans do, based on who they think has the experience, the vision and values to lead the country and also to beat whoever the Democratic nominee will be."
Romney has been pushing the fact that he could beat Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in a general election. Obama is leading polls in New Hampshire to beat Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., in today's election. Obama came in first in Iowa, followed by Sen. John Edwards, then Clinton.
Romney notes he beat rival Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and former Sen. Fred Thompson in Iowa by a wide margin.
"My message connected with people in Iowa," Romney said. "Now Gov. Huckabee pulled together a coalition of conservatives from, if you will, the evangelical base. That was a great job on his part. That's going to be more difficult to duplicate in all 50 states. I have to be able to put together all coalitions of all different groups, and that's exactly what we are doing."
Romney said he expects the dynamics of the race will change month to month, and he will see what develops as time moves along.He said he has "the kind of strength and support I need to take this all the way, so we are going to keep on battling."
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