A little over a week ago, Karl Rove advised Republicans to wrap their support around Mitt Romney because it was pretty much a done deal Romney would grab the GOP presidential nomination. “In an open race for the GOP nomination, no Republican has won both Iowa and New Hampshire, as Mitt Romney has,” wrote Rove. He went on to say South Carolina would be the last dance/chance for several candidates like Newt Gingrich.
Rove also haughtily noted “a small membership committee does not govern the process. No group of power brokers can pressure others into uniting behind one candidate. Millions of primary voters and caucus-goers will select the GOP's nominee.” Well a truer word was never said. Despite all the liberal media’s wishful thinking and the likes of Rove and rest of the Republican establishment, South Carolina voters spoke and voted overwhelmingly for Newt Gingrich 40% compared to 27% for Romney. This was a landslide victory for Gingrich.
What a reversal of fortune this past week was for Romney. Rick Santorum was declared the winner of Iowa after a recount revealed he won more votes than Romney. Romney won New Hampshire. Then Newt took South Carolina. Three primaries so far with three different winners and Mitt Romney didn’t make history.
I’ve said repeatedly that conservative voters would decide who their GOP presidential nominee would be rather than abdicating the decision to Republican establishment. Newt won South Carolina because voters aren’t stupid and debates matter. From the start, Newt was a deft debater. Before his PAC received an infusion of cash from Sheldon Adelson, Newt dominated debates with brains and bold ideas to defend America at home and abroad.
There was never a question where Newt stood on the issues then Newt’s PAC Winning the Future got more money to combat Romney’s negative ads against him in Iowa and the game changed. Suddenly, what was good for Newt wasn’t good for Romney. Newt’s PAC ran a negative ad on Romney’s tenure at Bain and voters started questioning plastic Romney’s electability with more intensity.
Apart from these negative ads, it was Newt’s performance in the last two debates that sealed the deal for him with South Carolina voters. In an exchange with Ron Paul during the Fox News debate Monday, Newt showed he wouldn’t flinch over foreign policy issues. Newt disagreed with Paul that our enemies like Osama bin laden should be treated like a Chinese dissident and given shelter, adding bin laden was a terrorist and enemy combatant and should be treated as such and killing him was a good thing.
Newt also tore into Fox News Juan Williams, who as the only black moderator that night tried to play the race card, asked if Newt felt it was insulting to black Americans when he said blacks should demand jobs not food stamps and poor kids should perform janitorial jobs in their schools. Newt said if poor kids worked in their schools, “they would be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor.” Williams followed up with another racially charged question designed to make Newt look anti-black and asked Newt if he thought it was “belittling” to refer to our first black president as “the food stamp president.” Williams implied because Obama’s black he should be held to a gentler standard than white presidents and it’s somehow inappropriate to reference Obama and food stamps in the same sentence perhaps because more blacks per capita are on food stamps compared to the white population. Newt fiercely responded to rousing applause that he wasn’t going to play the politically correct game and said “the fact is more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in history.”
Then there was CNN's John King, who opened last Thursday’s debate with more Newt bashing. (Do you see a theme here?) King asked Newt if he wanted to address an ABC News tabloid interview with his ex-wife Marianne in which she alleged Newt asked for an open marriage. Newt paused, smiled, stared at King and said “No but I will,” to thunderous applause. “I am appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” he continued to which the crowd applauded more and gave him a standing ovation.
As Newt pointed out, for CNN to ask that question two days before the South Carolina primary was “despicable,” and appeared to be done to with the intent to tank Gingrich’s chances in South Carolina. But it didn’t work! Despite all the efforts made by the mainstream liberal media and the Republican establishment to prop up Mitt Romney, Gingrich is resonating with conservative voters of all types because his convictions on the issues shine through.
While the GOP party lords believe Romney is the safe bet, many conservatives don’t see him as the winning bet. During the last two debates he’s stammered and fumbled on releasing his taxes and defending his record at Bain Capital. Romney is looking and sounding less and less presidential and electable.
In winning South Carolina, Newt demonstrated he could appeal to women, men and the states broad voter base of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, Tea Party supporters, and moderates. Exit polls also found South Carolina voters believed Gingrich was more electable than Romney. One thing is for certain, Newt changed the game and the people will decide who their nominee will be not a small club.