COLUMBIA, SC -- Why has Mitt Romney spent so much time in South Carolina recently? Perhaps his own words shed some light: "I don't think it's lost on anyone who is considering a national run that no Republican has been elected president that didn't win the South Carolina primary," said Romney.
Of course, Romney won't admit he's running for president, he's merely "keeping [his] options open." But, he continues, “to keep your options open, you have to get out and be seen and do some work for, particularly the early primary states."
Few who pay attention to the rumor mill in politics doubt that Romney will make an all-out effort to capture the Republican nomination in 2008. He has the national profile: CEO of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games; conservative Republican governor in the nation’s bluest state; and opponent of the Massachusetts same-sex ‘marriage’ debacle, his name is no stranger to the front pages of newspapers nationwide—by the way, on the judges who made the ‘marriage’ decision, he said, “I think they’re wrong.”
Governor Romney has ventured to the Palmetto State several times in the past year, most recently in late February for events in the top three most heavily Republican counties in the state. Townhall.com attended two of the three events and garnered some insight into his chances to capture the First in the South primary in 2008.
Romney, who identified himself as a nuanced pro-choicer in his Senate battle against über-liberal Ted Kennedy in 1996, is a changed man. “I’m pro-life,” he offers, “So, the issue is settled.” Skeptical pundits believe he might have flip-flopped on abortion with the gleam of a 2008 run in his eye and decided to reach out to the GOP base. Certainly, being pro-life is a pre-requisite for achieving victory in South Carolina these days.
Other pundits say that the GOP base, many of them evangelical Christians, might reject a Mormon candidate. However, Romney chalks those assertions up as total bunk. “Most people in South Carolina want a person of faith as their leader. But they don’t care what brand of faith that is,” he said. Surprisingly, he may be onto something.
Dr. Bob Taylor is a dean at Bob Jones University, an evangelical school in Greenville, and generally the political thermometer for the most faithful of South Carolina voters. Political types close to Taylor quote him as not viewing Romney's religion as a crippling issue. As long as Romney maintains his faithfulness to conservative principles, the faithful will accept him.