Gingrich Puts Romney to Rout in South Carolina

Gingrich and his wife on primary night (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The final results are in from South Carolina and it’s an eye opener to be sure and it just goes to show South Carolinians love racist, pompous hypocrites for President:

As Jason Easley wrote here last night, “Romney blew a 10 point lead to Gingrich according to the CNN poll. He blew a 14 point lead in five days according to Rasmussen. Romney had an 11 point lead according a January 15 Insider Advantage poll, and a 25 point lead on January 14 according to Reuters/Ipsos.”

Here’s what Newt had to say. Watch the video from HuffPo:

 

Here’s the thing: Romney didn’t just lose – he lost big, and it was a loss he could not afford. As always, during this campaign, the Republican candidates have been their own worst enemies. Sure he won in New Hampshire but Romney hasn’t looked too sharp recently as the other candidates gang up on the front-runner like a school of piranha.  And it’s probably well known by now that Romney didn’t win in Iowa after all- Santorum was the winner there – by thirty four votes. Gingrich on the other hand finished fourth in both Iowa and New Hampshire but showed last night that the past is not necessarily an indicator of the future. The Tea Party is no doubt partying like its 1999 but I doubt they can get Prince to perform since they can’t even pay their hotel bills.

Obviously, too much could be made of a single defeat but Mitt Romney did not have a good night – nor did Rick Santorum – nor did Ron Paul. South Carolina always picks the next Republican nominee for president and the results present Romney with an ever-present shadow hanging over his campaign.

It also starts you wondering if the Republican establishment can really sell Mitt Romney to the base. More moderate Republicans like him but he lacks Tea Party and Evangelical support. His campaign can shrug off the loss – at least publicly, as it in fact did. Romney’s campaign chairman, Curtis Loftis told ABC News, “We never thought it was going to be three and out, We always thought it was going to be a long haul.” This is also the message Romney sent to supporters via email:

This is a hard fight because there is so much worth fighting for.

Tomorrow we take our fight to Florida — a state that knows too well the failures of President Obama.

A lot is at stake in Florida in 10 days. But we cannot stop there. The road to the White House this November will go through Florida.

Unfortunately for Romney, it will also know well the failures of – Mitt Romney, coming straight from an upset to an important state. But Romney was cool in defeat even if he has not been in debates recently. Watch his concession speech via HuffPo:

 

But this is clearly far from the result Romney hoped – and spent – for. Apparently, even a bottomless war chest can only do so much for a campaign. The candidate has to perform. We may well see more of the angry, squirming, defensive Romney in the days ahead, and perhaps a few more revelations about Gingrich’s complete and utter lack of morality and simple human decency.

You have to wonder where “full spectrum conservative” Santorum’s much-vaunted Evangelical vote was; he’s been making a lot of fuss about their support in emails to his supporters, because, you know, nobody loves families more than Rick Santorum. But if God was on his side, there was no evidence of it in South Carolina. Like Jesus, was Rick Santorum asking “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Ron Paul might be wondering the same thing though the Jesus vibe isn’t working as well for him, having finished third in Fundieville, Iowa, a more respectable second in New Hampshire (but still no win) and now fourth in South Carolina. He vows to continue the fight but they all vow to continue the fight before they withdraw. Paul will have trouble gaining traction. He isn’t saying anything on the culture war front that the others aren’t saying, the Religious Right has already invested in Rick Santorum, and Paul’s views on military spending and his avowed foreign policy doesn’t appeal to the war-mongering Republican base. He can say he likes war as much as the next guy, but if he won’t sign on to the Great Iran Crusade, he’s pretty much writing himself out.

Of course, Paul made the most of his finishes at 3/2/4: “Ever notice how the other candidates go up and then down? I am proud of our efforts at steady growth,” Paul said in addressing his Paulites. And of course, they answered with, “President Paul! President Paul!”

Next stop, Florida, where a tattered Mitt Romney will take his establishment polish up against a rejuvenated but ever despicable Newt Gingrich. We will see how he does in the next of an endless series of Republican debates Monday night in Tampa. Some of the heat will likely be turned his way now. And as the Tampa Bay Times points out, “Gingrich lacks the organization Mitt Romney enjoys in Florida — and the money — and Romney has aggressively pursued absentee and early voters.”

And what does Gingrich say about that?

Yes, the SuperPacs will be busier than ever. Let the money flow!

Does Romney’s defeat upset the apple cart? It certainly demonstrates that Romney will not coast to a victory, and as Jason Easley said last night, it gives Democrats a chance at Gingrich, who will be lucky to get a single black vote at this point. The Boston Globe opines that “It’s soul-searching time for Republicans. It might not be pretty,” and concludes that Gingrich has forced the GOP into a grueling debate. CNN’s election center’s analysis is that “Gingrich’s strong double-digit victory in South Carolina ensures that the battle for the GOP presidential nomination will at least go through Super Tuesday on March 6.”

We will know more after the Florida Primary on January 31 following what are sure to be ten truly nasty days but no doubt a goldmine of soundbites. After that, Maine has its caucuses on February 7.

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