The GOP Nomination Race is Not Over
He’s supposed to make South Carolina his third straight victory and head to Florida with a full head of steam, at which point Mitt Romney would be the certain Republican nominee. About 99 out of 100 pundits told us it was all over after the New Hampshire primary. That chorus of prescience from the talking heads should have been our first clue.
Mitt Romney is fighting for his political life in South Carolina. The latest polls have Newt Gingrich just 2 points behind the prematurely anointed former Massachusetts Governor. Sarah Palin went on Fox today demanding that he release his tax returns and offer definitive proof about the 100,000 jobs he says he created when he was at Bain Capital.
Gingrich is unapologetically continuing the theme the party elders begged him to stop this week, unrelenting in his attacks on Romney’s investment banking days. He is joined by Texas Governor Rick Perry who lost a big GOP donor over the approach but didn’t seem to care much, saying, “If somebody wants to cut and run that’s their call.”
There will have been a full nine days of negative ads from Gingrich before South Carolinians finally take to the polls Saturday after next- a withering attack that may well have the same effect on Romney that Romney’s onslaught did to Newt in Iowa. Looks like the Super Pacs are going to make this a contest after all.
What is interesting about the path being taken by Gingrich, Perry and Palin in making these attacks on Romney is that it really does reflect a populist “main street” wing of the Republican Party. It must be horrifying to the “Wall Street” wing of the party.
And then there’s Ron Paul who will keep getting his 20% and finishing 2nd or 3rd in these contests, piling up delegates along the way.
Here’s the reality of the Romney march to the nomination. Yes, he made history becoming the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire. But he won Iowa by 8 votes and couldn’t hit 40% in the state where he owns a home and is next door to his native Massachusetts. South Carolina is Newt’s New Hampshire. Next to his home state of Georgia and a blue-collar conservative bastion that may well be receptive to the surprising populist message of the new main street Republicans.
This race may just be starting.