LIVE From South Carolina: Down to the Final Five

Posted: Jan 16, 2012 5:43 PM

Good evening from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, home of Governor Nikki Haley and the battle against the National Labor Relations Board.


Tonight marks five days until voters in South Carolina head to the polls to choose who they think is best suited to win the GOP nomination and to run against President Barack Obama for a seat in the Oval Office come November. Tonight, the GOP field is much smaller, down to five candidates. With Jon Huntsman dropping out of the race today and Michele Bachmann suspending her campaign just after the Iowa caucuses, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are the last men standing. Here is a preview of tonight's GOP debate hosted by Bret Baier at 9 pm EST on Fox News.

Romney: A few short weeks ago many didn't think Mitt Romney would win Iowa, not to mention be polling ahead of the GOP field by double digits in South Carolina, but going into tonight's debate you can bet we'll see a confident Mitt Romney at center stage, prepared for attacks that naturally come with a frontrunner status. Romney has been fighting off accusations from Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich of being a "vulture" capitalist and a ruthless job killer all week, coming away virtually unscathed as he continues his rise in the polls just days before the South Carolina primary. Regardless, tonight will be all about a Mitt pile-on from Gingrich and Perry while Romney will no doubt be asked questions about his record at Bain Capital, which has been under heavy scrutiny.

Gingrich: South Carolina could have been a state Gingrich might have carried, but with super PAC ads taking their toll on his record and his tactic to attack Mitt Romney by attacking capitalism, has completely back fired, things aren't looking very good for the Gingrich camp. Like always, Newt will do well in the debate tonight, simply because he's good at debating, but don't expect him to say anything we haven't already heard. He'll probably have to answer questions about why he chose to go about attacking Mitt Romney is the way he has for the past week, which may be slightly embarrassing considering the attacks haven't done anything to damage Romney's standing in the race at this point. We'll probably see a side of Newt that we haven't yet scene in any of the debates up to this point: attack mode.

Perry: Hands down, based on his jobs record and who he is as an evangelical Christian, Rick Perry would seem like the most likely candidate to sweep South Carolina with ease. However, the Texas governor just hasn't been able to articulate a message that reaches working voters and him backing up Newt Gingrich by attacking Mitt Romney for his time at Bain and capitalism as a whole, once again Perry just hasn't been able to gain any traction. Unless Perry's debate style has miraculously changed overnight, look forward to more talking points from him on every question he's asked, that is of course if he can remember them all....

Santorum: Rick Santorum has a chance to gain back some of his Iowa mojo tonight. With the recent news on the Iranian scientist being assassinated, Santorum will have a chance to espouse his foreign policy views once again, which are his strong suit. He's also going into tonight's debate with the backing of prominent evangelical leaders for his socially conservative policies, which should give him some confidence. He may face criticism for his big spending, big government votes as a Senator.

Paul: Ron Paul as usual will be consistent in both his domestic economic policies and his isolationist foreign policy view points. We won't be seeing anything new from him outside of him possibly coming to Romney's defense on the topic of Bain and the attacks on Capitalism.


If you watched the most recent debate on ABC News, hosted by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, you probably wanted to pull your hair out. Word is there won't be any questions about none existent contraception bans tonight and a little bird told me there will be more than one question about the Obama Justice Department's lethal Operation Fast and Furious, or as I like to call it, MurderGate. We'll also be hearing a whole lot about Bain Capital, Mitt Romney's record with the company, the economy and the battle between the National Labor Relations Board and the states, as South Carolina is ground zero for the fight between right-to-work and federal government officials in the Obama administration carrying water for labor unions. Be sure to check the tipsheet after the debate for a full wrap up.