Galvanized by a vote of confidence from Iowa caucusers and the high-profile endorsement of Arizona Sen. John McCain (a sworn enemy just four years ago), GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney pushes ahead to New Hampshire this week as the once-formidable cast of GOP challengers starts to dwindle.
Lauding Rep. Michele Bachmann—who threw in the towel today—for her "tenacity and leadership" and "titanium spine," Romney has mostly sidestepped the onslaught of attacks Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Bachmann have had to endure.
[Read: It's Game On in New Hampshire.]
But that could change going into New Hampshire as the remaining GOP challengers get a little more desperate to gain precious votes. After all, Romney won by a razor-thin eight-vote margin over former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in Iowa.
After his disappointing fourth-place finish, Newt Gingrich has hinted he'll be coming out swinging in New Hampshire. "We're not going to go out and run nasty ads," Gingrich said to supporters, referring to Romney only as "a Massachusetts moderate."
"But I do reserve the right to tell the truth, and if the truth seems negative, that may be more a comment on his record," Gingrich added.
Cool, collected and slightly smug, Romney shrugged off the threats Wednesday.
"Let the attacks come," he said on CBS's The Early Show. "I've got broad shoulders."
Romney's banking on the fact that he's put in the time in New Hampshire and that voters can separate the "real" Romney from the image his opponents seek to paint: a fake Republican politician who flip flops when it suits him.
It will take a serious blow to dislodge Romney from his perch atop the poll numbers in New Hampshire. After eking out a victory in Iowa, observers expect Romney to clear the New Hampshire primary hurdle with ease. According to the latest poll numbers, Romney has 29 points on his nearest opponent, Ron Paul, who is expected to claim 14 percent of the vote.
But his opponents aren't going down without a fight. Expect a lot of fur to start flying as voters whittle down the GOP field this primary season.