Presidential Wednesday: South Carolina Looms Large

With former Utah Governor suspending his campaign Monday and endorsing Mitt Romney, New Hampshire did it’s part to whittle down the field of candidates seeking the GOP Nomination. Will South Carolina’s GOP primary on Saturday do the same? My bet is Texas Governor Rick Perry ends things shortly after the results come in. The RCP Average of South Carolina polls puts Perry at 5.5%, just above the aforementioned Hunstsman. It’s sad really, I had high hopes for Perry who has been a successful Governor and on paper seemed to be a solid candidate. Of course Perry may not drop out and could do better than expected on Saturday. I’ve been wrong before.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, buoyed by a solid debate performance Tuesday night, is calling on the two Ricks (Santorum and Perry) to drop out and anoint him as the Not-Mitt candidate. Of course Santorum finished well ahead of Gingrich in Iowa (and may have actually won) and edged out Gingrich for 4th place in New Hampshire. Santorum says no thanks:

Santorum came in a close second in Iowa and eked out a fourth place finish – ahead of Gingrich – in New Hampshire, so he isn’t ready to concede just yet. After the debate, he dismissed the former speaker’s claim that a vote for him is essentially a vote for Romney.

“I’m a friend of Newt’s, he’s a good man, but the idea that someone who is 0 and 2 in races is that I am hurting him. Yeah I’m hurting him. I’m beating him. That’s the difference,” said Santorum.

Gingrich received a standing ovation at Tuesday’s debate while answering a question from Juan Williams:

Newt also received an endorsement, sort of, from Sarah Palin:

“If I had to vote in South Carolina — in order to keep this thing going — I’d vote for Newt and I would want this to continue,” Palin said.

Santorum’s campaign got a boost this week after a majority of a group of 150 Evangelical Christian leaders gave their support to the former Pennsylvania Senator.

After a “very cordial but passionate” discussion and three rounds of balloting, Santorum had won the support of more than two-thirds of the leaders present at the meeting just outside Houston.

“I will have to admit that what I did not think was possible appears to be possible,” (Family Research Council President Tony Perkins) said, adding that “there is clearly a unified group here.”

While Gingrich and Perry have placed enormous importance on South Carolina, Ron Paul is taking a longer term view:

At a Tuesday press conference in Columbia, Paul — flanked by state Sens. Danny Verdin, Lee Bright, Kevin Bryant and Tom Davis — promised he’s in for the long haul, regardless of whether Mitt Romney wins the Jan. 21 primary.

“Of course he’s not going to win the nomination Saturday. Why should everybody walk away if he wins this primary? You have to wait to see where the delegates are. An election is to get the magic number of delegates,” Paul said. “So yes, I will continue to do it.”

Later in the day, in Spartanburg, Paul said he “expects to do very well Saturday,” and reaffirmed that his focus was on winning the GOP primary, not launching an independent bid for president.

Paul returned to Washington today to vote against raising the debt ceiling.

Finally, Herman Cain is back, this time acting as proxy for TV star Stephen Colbert:

Last week, talk show host Stephen Colbert announced he was running in the GOP primary in South Carolina, and gave control of his very real Super PAC to fellow talk show host Jon Stewart.

Colbert then announced on his show Monday that he’s unable to run as a candidate in South Carolina because the state does not allow write-ins in the primary. So he urged his supporters to instead vote for a surrogate candidate: Herman Cain. Why? Because though Cain is officially out of the race, his name remains on the ballot.

Here’s the latest RCP Average and Intrade Percentages:

3 comments

  1. Engineer says:

    Honestly, I’d actually consider voting for Colbert if he was a 3rd party candidate in a Romney v. Obama situation (assuming a certain somebody else doesn’t go 3rd party). Reminds me of that movie with Robin Williams, Man of the Year.

  2. 200 pages of opposition research John McCain gathered on Mitt Romney are now on the web.

    As I mentioned last week, I don’t like the method of attack Gingrich and Perry have launched against Romney re: Bain Capital. However, I’ve been disappointed at Romney’s lackluster response to those attacks. For a guy who’s been running for President as long as Romney has, he should have had responses ready. He better have responses ready for the stuff his new pal McCain dug up in ’08 or it’s going to be a long year for Team Romney.

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