Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tim Tebow Defeats GOP Field in Stunning Come-From-Behind Victory in New Hampshire

(Reuters) Concord, N.H. - Few people in this small New England town expected Tim Tebow to beat Rick Santorum, let alone Mitt Romney. Yet, during victory parties across the state, no one was surprised.

"We knew that he was a competitor," said Ron Paul who came in third in the nation's first primary, "We knew he was going to do that. We knew if we let him stay in there and kept him alive then this could happen."

Tebow pulled in a surprising 43% of the Republican vote, including the staunchly conservative towns of Whitefield and Conway.  After a three week blitz of the state and, despite the prevalence of attack ads against him, no competing campaign or PAC was able to land a solid critique to dissuade voters.

"He's a good campaigner," Governor of Texas Rick Perry said. "He bought time with his legs, his volunteers worked hard for him to get open to the public, and, uh... one other thing.  Oops."

After a poor start, Tebow replaced Tim Paulenty -- who later dropped out of the race -- and has been polling well enough in early voting states to become a national phenomenon with the way he routinely conflated his performance with the will of God.

It was the way Tebow finished that surprised the other challengers. Since his early political career in Florida in 2009, Tebow has been criticized for his poor grasp of the issues. As thrilling as his wins have been this campaign season, he was so bad the last two debates that some in the campaign suggested the GOP start backing Rick Santorum, who hasn't held public office since 2007.

"The Tebow campaign just made some strategic moves," former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said. "He opened up. We've seen many times where guys would actually drop the ball when they were wide open... think Gary Hart in '88. [Tebow] put the ball in tight places.  Like Bill Clinton in '98."

As far as Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney  was concerned, it wasn't Tebow that did the unusual. It was the rest of the GOP field.

"I'm surprised by the way the vote turned out today," said Romney, whose only hit on Tebow was a take on Gingrich's 'Moral Bologna' charge leveled at himself. "We ran our campaign in this state poorly. We didn't get pressure there at times. We let him scramble at times. We didn't cover well at times. It's a combination of everything. It's no one thing."

Asked his impression of Tebow's performance, Romney, as always, was vanilla. "He ran well enough to win, and we ran sorry enough to lose," he said.

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