Newt the “Great Articulator” wins big in South Carolina

Not since President Ronald Reagan has a Politician stirred the deepest heartfelt passions & spoken to the sense of disillusionment, about every American household’s current struggle & experiences, then former Speaker Gingrich has this past week. “It’s not that I am a good debater,” Gingrich said, “It is that I articulate the deepest-felt values of the American people.” President Reagan may have been known as the “Great Communicator,” I welcome Speaker Gingrich as the average ordinary person’s “Great Articulator.”

Gingrich won 40% to Mr Romney’s 28% in South Carolina, a victory that seemed most unlikely a week ago. It proves that focussing on the issues and being prepared to stand up for traditional American values and speak directly to the people about the real issues, not the sugar coated spin often associated with the media’s interpretation of the issues, is what really appeals to the ordinary person. Other Republican hopefuls, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Texas representative Ron Paul, were trailing badly with 17% and 13% respectively.

In his victory speech Gingrich went out of his way to praise his presidential rivals, getting an especially lively response when he cited Rick Santorum’s “enormous courage” for campaigning, and winning, in Iowa when he had no money, organization, or media coverage.  He was careful to cite the issues the other candidates have championed, as well as offering personal praise. Gingrich also said, ”Obama is the most effective food stamp president in history, I would like to be the best paycheque president in American history.”

Newt Gingrich’s thumping victory last night was based not only on his willingness to stand up against the media bias, which has traditionally attacked Republican candidates. It is also founded in the support base and homes of every American household, it is jobs and shows true people power is still the effective tool in American politics.

Gingrich spoke about a pro-growth strategy similar to the proven policies used when he was Speaker to balance the budget, pay down the debt, and create jobs. Political commentators and the media in general, have grossly underestimated the influence of social networks such at Facebook, Twitter and others have had in this result. The support base are now better informed and more independent then in any previous election, due to their willingness and ability, to undertake their own research on allegations and facts on the internet.

This election is without a doubt a watershed in American history, it will dictate whether America recovers from its slow economic decline over the last decade, and have its American spirit and love of free enterprise restored. The election boils down to the traditional question and bottom line. “Are you better off now then you were four  years ago?”

President Obama who is a very likeable person and rode a wave of public disillusionment in 2008 to win the White House with the message of hope and change, respectfully has proved an ineffective and at times weak leader. The near $5 trillion dollars of spending, and a perceived detachment from how ordinary American’s are feeling, is a world away from the optimism he espoused. American’s sense that their society, and indeed government, have never been as divided before. The ordinary voters haven’t switched off from President Obama the person, they have switched off from his administration’s poor policies, and all too frequent politicking in crucial matters. American’s want jobs and action, not political rhetoric.

Gingrich’s victory, should also send a clear and distinct message to Governor Romney, who has already spent $7 million dollars in Florida on media ads, the message is that dirty personal attacks are not what is going to make him president in this election. Voters want to know what the candidates stand for and what they will do to help them, with a passion.  I still believe Romney will win in Florida due to his spending advantage. However, Romney needs to win over the hearts and minds of the voters. He is coming across as too insincere, too out of touch and too much the professional politician. Fundamentally, people are sick and tired of the personal attack ads he so frequently uses.

Voters don’t want their votes and support taken for granted any longer, and political consultant’s will need to adapt their long held strategies and rule books and recognise, and respect, the reality is the modern voter is better informed and educated on the issues than ever before. Ordinary grass root supporters are also fed up of having a preferred establishment candidate being jammed down their throats, as if their own views and choices don’t matter.

This election is about restoring the American Dream, restoring jobs, rebuilding the education system, rebuilding communities, and above all, restoring the American dream with its unique exceptionalism together with a clear vision about the American future.

People are no longer interested in the trash talking that most of the television networks engage in, while reality T.V. may have made the debates more attractive and appealing to the younger generation. People want to know they can have a secure pay check at the end of each month and are able to meet their commitments and have the personal security that brings. They want a leader who puts America and Americans first, not their party or themselves. Gingrich has a record for delivering large scale improvements and for putting the people first, not the political elite.

The most evoking line that signalled Gingrich’s intent going forward against the GOP establishment and media attackers was, “We want to run, not a Republican campaign, we want to run an American campaign.”

Gingrich is slowly becoming the champion of the American dream and American exceptionalism for its people. More importantly, Gingrich is starting to make the ordinary American believe again in their leadership and country, that with optimism, hard work and some sacrifice, the American Dream can and will shine brightly for generations to come if he is elected.

Welcome Gingrich, the “Great Articulator”.

Gingrich Drops a Knockout Punch Money Bomb, Santorum Goes on the Attack, and Romney Tries to Stay Intact

Bookmark and Share   The three major candidates that will be moving on to compete in the Florida primary on January 31st, are all trying to set a tone that will allow them to come leave South Carolina with the type of momentum and enthusiasm that they will need to do as best as they can in the Sunshine State.

Following his third place showing in South Carolina, Rick Santorum, sent an email out to his supporters that tried to stress how this nomination is anyone’s to win.

According to Santorum’s email;

“For the first time, three different candidates have won the first three contests of the Republican nomination contest.  It’s a clear signal from voters that this race is still wide open. And that’s why we must keep the pressure on.”

Santorum goes a step further and tries to motivate his supporters by getting them angry at Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich while also taking swipes at their electability.  In the case of Mitt Romney, he writes;

“The Romney campaign is now nervous. Just a few weeks ago they were talking about a “clean sweep” in the first three primary states. Now it looks like they are one for three — just like our campaign and Newt’s.

That’s why the former frontrunner’s Boston-based consultants launched a series of misleading robocalls against me in South Carolina. I guess they think that’s the way to win elections.

I’ve got news for them. You can’t fool voters, and when you try, they turn on you. That’s why Romney’s campaign is on the ropes and, frankly, acting desperate.”

In regards to Newt Gingrich, Santorum states;

“Newt, on the other hand, thinks if he puts his ego on display, voters will like it. There’s no doubt Newt talks the talk. Problem is, when you look at his record, he doesn’t walk the walk. Leading Republicans have said nominating Newt would be “a disaster” for the Party. When I point that out, Newt starts attacking my “electability”. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Santorum adds;

Our campaign won’t stand for attacks like these. At the same time, we won’t sink to their level. I intend to continue pushing my positive, values-based campaign without taking cheap shots at my opponents. Voters who hear our message like what we have to say — and I will continue to draw a sharp contrast between our vision for America and that of President Obama’s.

For his part, moments after he delivered his remarks following the release of the Palmetto State primary election results, the now again, former frontrunner for the nomination, Mitt Romney, tried to convey a sense of urgency to his own supporters by trying to make them aware of how important Florida is to his campaign and letting them know this nomination contest is a real fight.  He stated;

“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.”

Right before he took to the stage in South Carolina to declare his first primary election victory, Newt’s campaign emailed supporters a message that was intended to insure that they remain motivated by their almost inherent disgust for the mainstream and Washington establishment.

Newt wrote;

“Our success in yesterday’s South Carolina primary is a result of one thing: a national movement of conservative patriots who want to see bold solutions enacted to rebuild the America we love. The political establishment in Washington and their allies in the liberal media have written our campaign off as dead – not once, but twice! But here’s something they couldn’t account for: the American people know that we need a Reagan conservative to debate Obama, to draw stark contrasts with Obama, and to make sure we defeat Obama!”

And in an attempt to undermine Rick Santorum, Newt also tried to establish himself as the one viable conservative alternative to Mitt Romney and uses Sarah Palin and Rick Perry as evidence of the type conservatives who are behind him.  He writes;

“Over the last few days, we’ve seen conservatives in South Carolina – and across the country – unify behind our bold campaign of ideas. With support from great conservatives like Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Michael Reagan, 100 Tea Party leaders, and millions of proud Americans it doesn’t matter how despicable the attacks from the media get, together we will continue to persevere. This election is about fundamentally changing the direction of our nation, and I am honored to represent the ideas of freedom and prosperity for the conservative movement.”

The Gingrich campaign then makes a pitch for some of the much needed money that they will have to raise if they intend to compete effectively against Romney in Florida.  They launch a money bomb called the “Knockout Punch” and Gingrich adds;

“If you want to watch us run circles around Barack Obama in the debates with bold conservative ideas, then please make a donation today as part of our two-day “knockout punch” money bomb! Help us solidify the conservative momentum, join our campaign today!

 Clearly, South Carolina has put the pressure on each of the three most serious   candidates remaining in the race.
Romney must finally try to convince conservatives that he really is one of them.  Rick Santorum must try to remain relevant by avoiding another third place showing.  And Newt Gingrich must try to prove that his landslide victory in South Carolina was not a fluke and that he really is capable of going all the way.
And with each of these three men having won one statewide nomination contest apiece, each of them wants to desperately break that tie.  Right now the money is on Romney in Florida, but if you recall, less than ten days prior to the South Carolina primary, the money was on Romney to win there too and look how that turned out for him.
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A Close Look at Newt Gingrich’s Landlside Victory in South Carolina

Bookmark and Share   Newt Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina was nothing less than astonishing and while it marked Newt’s second return to life during this election cycle, it hardly makes the race for the Republican presidential nomination any clearer than it was after the two previous state contests.  What it did do though was make clear that Mitt Romney has some big problems.  So does Gingrich, but Newt’s problem seems to be more with the general electorate than the Republican electorate.

Final Results for the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary

According to a breakdown of the votes which produced an impressive 12% lead over Mitt Romney, the rival to come closest to him, in addition to so far winning 23 of the 25 delegates from the state, Newt won almost every single Republican demographic in the state.  He defeated all the other candidates among just about every voting bloc.  He took a majority of the vote among women, men, urban voters, suburban voters, voters with high school level educations and college educations, voters of all income brackets, and he even won a majority of votes among those who describe themselves not just as conservative Republicans, but even among those who describe themselves liberal Republicans.  However; Romney did beat Gingrich among self described moderates with 36% of them for Mitt,  to 31% for Newt.

Gingrich not only won a plurality of evangelical Christians, he won Catholics and Protestants, as well as both married and single voters.

The only demographics that Newt did lose were those between the ages of 18 and 29, and  those who said that a candidates religion either mattered very little in their choice of candidate, or not at all.

Ron Paul won the 18 to 29 year old age group with 32% of their vote, to 27% of their vote for Gingrich.  As seen in the table below, that 5% margin between Newt and Ron Paul tightens up in the older half of that age bracket, where 25 to 29 year olds gave Ron Paul 31% of the vote and Newt Gingrich 29% of their vote.

As for those who find little or no importance in a candidate’s sharing similar religious beliefs with them, Mitt Romney beats Gingrich by anywhere from 3 to 10%, as seen below;

The only real significance that can be found within those numbers have less to do with Romney and Gingrich, and more to do with Rick Santorum.

Last week, 150 national evangelical leaders gathered in Texas and decided to endorse Rick Santorum.  Their hope was to essentially unite the evangelical vote behind one of Mitt’s Romney’s rivals in an attempt to deny Romney the ability to win the nomination.  As I predicted at the time, the move did not work.  Clearly, evangelical voters said those 150 religious leaders can do what they want, because they were going to do their own thing.  In this case, they went for Newt, not Santorum.  As I stated at the time, those evangelical leaders did more harm to their cause than good. In addition to looking unorganized, they now look powerless and have diminished the amount of clout that their future endorsements may carry.

Meanwhile, while Ron Paul narrowly defeated Gingrich among the younest voters, who accounted for 9% of the total vote in South Carolina, he quite surprisingly lost two groups that he desperatley needed for a strong showing.

One of those groups were Independents.

South Carolina’s open primary system allows Independents to vote in the Republican primary.  This was the case in  Iowa and New Hampshire too, and in both those states, Independent voters were in fact the main reason Ron Paul did as well as he did in those states.  I have often stated, if left up to Republicans, Ron Paul is nothing but a second tier candidate and exit polls in South Carolina supported that conclusion.  But in addition to receiving the least support from Republicans, Ron Paul also lost the Independent vote. And not just to Newt Gingrich, but to Mitt Romney as well.

Among Independents, Gingrich beat Paul by 7%, and Mitt Romney beat Paul by 1%.

Another big defeat for Ron Paul was his loss of the military vote.

Ron Paul prides himself on a statistic which he uses to claim that he receives more support from our military service members, than any other candidate.  Paul likes to make this claim because he believes that his statistic regarding fundraising from servicemen and women, provides him cover for his reckless and dangerous isolationist foreign and national defense policies.  The suggestion is that if the military supports him more than any other candidate, they must like his defense and foreign policies and therefore, they are good policies.

If such were really the case though, South Carolina would be extremely fertile territory for Ron Paul to pull off an electoral coup in.  With several substantial military installations in the state, South Carolina has one of the largest active duty and veteran populations in the nation.  Between that and the state’s open primary system which allows Independents and even Democrats to vote in the Republican primary, if Ron Paul could win any state, South Carolina is that one.  But in addition to losing the Independent vote, Ron Paul also lost the military vote.  And not just by a little and not just to Newt Gingrich.  He lost to Rick Santorum by 4%, Mitt Romney by 20%, and Newt Gingrich by a whopping 27%.

In general, while the results were incredibly good for Newt in South Carolina, they were actually very embarrassing for Ron Paul.

All in all, these numbers help to establish that Newt Gingrich is most certainly a serious threat to Mitt Romney.

While South Carolina is not a the most accurate example of national consensus, it is a relatively good representative picture of national Republican sentiments and an even better predictor of Republican presidential nominees.  But if nothing else, it is a an excellent indicator of how tough it may be for Romney to survive the Southern primaries.

Florida will be the real test for both Romney and Gingrich though.

If there is any Southern state which Romney has an excellent chance of winning, it is Florida.

Florida, may be very Republican, and very conservative, but it has a significant Jewish population. The largest Jewish population in all the South.  That voting bloc tends to be more moderate and liberal, and therefore perfect prospective supporters of Mitt Romney, the man Newt describes as a “Massachusetts moderate”.   In the general election, this Jewish vote in Florida will be critical to winning the state and the presidency, and if recent history is any indication, they may easily be persuaded to vote Republicans, or at least against President Obama.

Several months ago, in a special election to replace disgraced New York liberal Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Republican won that heavily heavily Jewish congressional seat which crosses New York City’s counties of Brooklyn and Queens.  It is a district which has been in Democrat hands for practically a hundred years, yet thanks to a Jewish vote that is very unhappy with President Obama and his policies with Israel and his horrible treatment of Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish voters elected a relatively conservative, Republican to replace Anthony Weiner.

This all means that the Jewish vote will be quite important and in Florida, it could make the difference between winning and losing in the primary between Mitt and Newt, and winning and losing in the general election between President Obama and whoever the eventual Republican presidential nominee is.

If Newt were smart, he would be headed for Florida right now and direct his campaign operatives to focus in on the Jewish vote and accentuate what is Newt’s very real, very pro-Israel policy record.  As Speaker of the House, Newt accumulated an extremely powerful and very lengthy, positive record on Israel, and that record could provide the margin of victory for Newt over Mitt in Florida.

If Newt can prevent Mitt Romney from winning Florida, he will have a better than 50-50 chance at becoming the Republican nominee. The numbers behind the numbers  in South Carolina, support that.  But in order for Newt to reach those odds, he will have to undermine Romney’s strengths in the Sunshine State.  One of them is money.  Another is organization, and the other is the moderate and liberal element of the Republican Party.  Newt will have the support of conservatives and evangelicals, so long as he does not start attacking from the left again.  All he needs is to win over enough of the moderates to prevent Mitt from getting another Santorum-like 34 vote victory and his uphill battle for the big prize will get a lot less steeper.

For a more comprehensive look at the numbers behind the final election numbers you can visit here .

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Santorum Will Remain in the Race Regardless of Where He Finishes In South Carolina

Bookmark and Share  According to officials in the presidential campaign of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum have stated that no matter where Santorum finishes in tonight’s South Carolina Primary, he will not drop out of the nomination contest and promises to campaign aggressively in Florida which holds its primary in 10 days.

Before polls even closed in the Palmetto State, it was already established that Rick Santorum is locked in a race for third place with Texas libertarian Congressman Ron Paul.

Whether he comes in third or fourth, a loss to both Romney and Gingrich who are locked in their own tight race for first place, would essentially put an end to any momentum that Santorum had after his surprise showing in Iowa several weeks ago.

Despite being endorsed by 150 evangelical leaders, pressure will begin to mount on Santorum to step aside, especially since while Gingrich is doing better the long race goes, Santorum is doing worse the longer the race goes on.

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Real Time South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary Results

Final Election results of the South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary

Newt Gingrich Wins South Carolina and Becomes the Undisputed Alternative to Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share  In what can only be seen as a setback for Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich upended the political world with a significant victory in the first in South Republican Presidential Primary.

Despite bad weather in the interior sections of the state which contained some of the most favorable territory for Gingrich, the Georgia Republican overcame a massive, well financed, campaign effort for Mitt Romney that was led by South Carolina’s own Governor, Nikki Haley and upset the perceived frontrunner for the nomination and has gone a long way in establishing himself as the long sought after, undisputed conservative to Mitt Romney.

Early exit polls indicate that Gingrich did surprises well among most all demographics, including women, an important and significant voting bloc which many felt would be problematic for Newt because of  two divorces and a history of marital indefinite.  This problem was compounded by a recent ABC Nightline News interview with Gingrich’s second wife Marianne Gingrich

One factor that cannot be ignored here is that these results were influenced not just by Republicans.  South Carolina has an open primary, which means that Independents can vote in the Republican nomination contest.  By all rights, such open primaries benefit Ron Paul’s more than any of the others.  Those Independent voters were largely responsible for the numbers that helped Ron Paul a third place finish in Iowa and a second place showing in New Hampshire.

Clearly, they did not boost Ron Paul’s fortunes in South Carolina but if they went to Newt and helped form his winning coalition in the palmetto State, it could be a sign that Newt may be a much better general election candidate than some have suggested to this point.

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Romney Makes Final Pitch to South Carolinians

Bookmark and Share    As the polls now place Newt Gingrich back ahead of Mitt Romney in South Carolina, Romney is making a final push to help avoid a second place finish that will do nothing but help narrow the election down to what will realistically amount to a two man race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Much of the last minute push consists of a heavy dose of last minute campaigning with the latest big name to endorse him, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and he continues to hit the trail with the Palmetto State’s Governor, Nikki Haley.

Below you will find  Romney’s most recent video pitch to South Carolinians.

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Endorses Mitt Romney

Bookmark and Share   Early this morning, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell who once declared that he would not be endorsing a candidate in the Republican presidential contest has seemingly reversed course and thrown his considerable clout behind Mitt Romney for President.

McDonnell called Romney a “results-oriented conservative” who can appeal to Democrats and independents and he told CNBC that his message is that if you want to win the race in November, vote for Mitt Romney.

On Fox News, Governor McDonnell stated that Romney has a proven record in the public and private sector of getting things done and argued that there are only three issues that will really matter in the election………. one being job creation, another being the need to get rid of “this crushing national debt” and finally, leadership.  And it is on those issues that McDonnell says Romney can win.

While McDonnell’s support has some value, the most interesting aspect of the endorsement is the timing.  It comes one day before what could be a game changing result in the South Carolina Primary.  It is pretty clear that the Romney camp, which has mastered much of the art of political campaigning, has begun to sweat and so they decided now was the time to unleash the endorsement of the popular Southern Governor in the hopes that it will help stem the perceived surge that Newt Gingrich is riding as the race in South Carolina wraps up.

In case you haven’t heard, timing is everything and its not any different in politics.

If you recall, back in December, Newt Gingrich flew to the front of the then crowded G.O.P. field.  The problem was timing.  He peeked too early and in the two weeks leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, he saw that rapid rise to the top erode and ceded ground to Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.  This time, in South Carolina, thanks to Newt’s ability to catch the crest of his wave at just the right moment, combined with a few well timed breezes at his back which consisted of Sarah Palin’s quasi-endorsement, Rick Perry’s suspension of his own campaign and endorsement of Newt’s, and two well executed debate performances, Gingrich looks like he is peaking just in time to be the first one to ride his wave across the Palmetto State finish line.   All of these conditions which have been beyond Romney’s control have forced him to play some cards that he has been holding close.  In this case, it is obvious that Gingrich’s success has Romney sweating enough to have forced his hand and play the McDonnell card.

How much it will help is questionable.

McDonnell promises to spend the closing hours of the campaign stomping in South Carolina, but Mitt already has the personal and organizational support of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the insularly access to support from the state Party apparatus that comes with her.  And at the moment it is not stopping Gingrich from pulling ahead in the latest polls.

In my own estimation, I have concluded that even though McDonnell is a rising conservative star and a positive name to have your on side, in the case of Mitt Romney, McDonnell’s endorsement will actually benefit Newt Gingrich more than Mitt.  As the perceived “establishment” candidate, getting the endorsement of another elected  “establishment” politician, will help urge still undecided voters from among the large anti-establishment voting bloc, to move more Newt’s way than Mitt’s way.

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Video Of Rick Perry’s Decision to Suspend His Campaign and to Endorse Newt Gingrich

Bookmark and Share Below is video of Governor Perry endorsing Speaker Newt Gingrich after annoucning that he was suspending his own campaign for President.

According to Governor Perry;

“I believe Newt is a Conservative visionary who can transform our country.  We’ve had our differences which campaigns will inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?  The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God.  And I believe in the power of redemption for it is a central tenant of my Christian faith.  I have no question that Newt Gingrich has the heart of a Conservative reformer, the ability to rally and captivate the Conservative movement.  The courage to tell those Washington interests to take a hike if that is in the best interest of our country.”  

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The Impact of Perry’s Decision to Suspends His Campaign and Endorse Newt Gingrich

Bookmark and Share   In what was probably the most sincere and eloquent speech of his 5 month long race for the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he was suspending his campaign and endorsing the candidacy of Newt Gingrich for President.  The decision which came in advance of what was an inevitable, single digit, last place showing in this Saturday’s  South Carolina Primary was not totally unexpected, but both its timing and the endorsement that came with it were.

In recent days it became clear that despite an endorsement of Rick Santorum by over 150 evangelical leaders, the evangelical base and conservative base of the G.O.P. was not coalescing around Santorum and continued to see both blocs dividing their vote between Gingrich, Perry, and Santorum.  At the same time, while Santorum seemed to be losing steam among those voting blocs, Newt was gaining momentum among them.  So much so that he even suggested that if Perry and Santorum really cared about the conservative cause, the two of them would drop out and get behind him.

Rick Perry apparently agreed and in his announcement, he issued a subtle call to arms for conservatives to indeed get behind Gingrich.

According to Perry, Gingrich is a “conservative visionary” and in a clear attempt to blunt the blow from an anticipated ABC News interview with Newt’s ex-wife Marianne, Perry stated;

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” 

He added;

“The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God and I believe in the power of redemption, for it is a central tenet of my own Christian faith.”

The latter remarks will probably have more of a positive impact on Gingrich’s candidacy than Perry’s actual endorsement.

Some recent polls indicate that Perry only has the support of 2% of South Carolina primary voters and while not all of those supporters will simply flock to Newt because of Perry’s decision to support him, Perry’s words about redemption will resonate quite well among the broader base of evangelical voters at large in South Carolina.  Those words will go a long way in helping many of those undecided evangelicals to break for Newt rather than Santorum.

To a great degree, Perry’s decisions to suspend his campaign and endorse Newt Gingrich are less important than the timing of those decisions.

Before the day was less than half over, Perry’s announcement blurred the focus of two other headline grabbing bits of news that had it not been for the distraction of Perry’s announcement would have captured the headlines and all the attention.

The first was the continued leaking of the ABC News interview with Newt’s ex-wife, who described her revelations as career ending for the former Speaker.  The other news was the declaration by the Iowa State Republican Party to “unofficially” certify Rick Santorum as the actually winner in that state’s caucus.  Even though a recount has given Santorum 34 more than Mitt Romney the Party oficially ruled the caucus a virtual tie between Santorum and Romney.  The unusual ruling was based upon the fact that the results from 8 different precincts are missing.

The glitch allowed Santorum to technically declare himself the winner and give him the hope of changing the narrative that has until now, dominated the Republican nomination caucus, a narrative which made Mitt Romney the clear frontrunner as the first non-incumbent Republican presidential candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Given the few votes that separated Santorum from Romney in Iowa, and the fact that there are votes missing, Santorum would have already had a difficult time trying to change the existing perceptions about Romney’s electoral strength, but Governor Perry made it practically impossible for Santorum to do after he quickly replaced the Iowa Caucus headline with his own about the end of campaign and endorsement of Gingrich.

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Newt Surges in South Carolina

Bookmark and Share   A new Rasmussen poll shows that despite nearly forcing another collapse of his campaign with left-wing attacks against Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich is experiencing his second surge in the 2012 election cycle just days before South Carolinians go to the polls to select a republican presidential nominee.

The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows Mitt Romney holding on to his lead with 30%, but the real story is that Newt Gingrich who two weeks ago was at 16%, has pulled nearly even with Mitt Romney and now has 27% of the vote.

While Romney’s numbers remain virtually unchanged from two weeks ago, the other story aside from Newt’s surge,  is that even though a bloc of evangelical leaders recently voted to endorse Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator seems to be wearing thin on South Carolinians as he backslides going from 21% to his current third place showing at 15%.

As for the remaining candidates in the race Texas Congressman Ron Paul holds steady at 13% support from likely primary voters, and Texas Governor Rick Perry remains in last place with four percent 4%.

According to Rasmussen, another 4% like some other candidate in the race, and  7% are undecided.

Adding to the good news for Gingrich is the fact that these poll numbers were taken before Wednesday evening’s, late night, semi-endorsement of Gingrich in South Carolina by Sarah Palin.

As good as the news seems to be for Gingrich in the short term, the Rasmussen poll does not show any significant signs of long term good news for Newt.

Nationally approximately 70% of all Republicans now expect Romney to ultimately be the nominee and Mitt continues to hold a sizeable lead in Florida, the important Southern primary that will take place on January 31st, ten days after South Carolina holds its contest.

All of this suggests that Romney is still headed for the nomination but clearly, he is not assured of smooth sailing across the finish line, and under the circumstances, if Newt can defeat Romney in the Palmetto State primary, it may indeed turn the nomination contest in to an entirely new contest.  At least until Florida.

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Romney MIA for Pro-Life Forum

Romney is playing it safe, taking advantage of the luxury of his front runner status.  Part of that means skipping tonight’s Pro-Life forum in SC.  Romney’s hubris is not unfounded.  As Social Conservatives split for Santorum and Gingrich, Romney is set to take another state with well under 50% of the vote.

Romney should be careful.  His support base includes many conservatives who are voting for him because he is the presumed nominee and they believe he can beat Obama.  So why didn’t they support Huntsman?  Because Huntsman was not a conservative on certain key issues that are non-negotiables for conservatives.  Romney is…or is he?

Romney has a history of running on both pro-life and pro-abortion platforms.  Politicians have a long established practice of flip flopping and pandering, so Romney is not doing anything radical by changing his position.  What sunk John Kerry wasn’t his flip flopping, it was the position he landed on.  Romney himself has done well landing in a solid pro-life position.  So why won’t he show up tonight?  This question is not one Romney should want conservatives asking themselves going into South Carolina.  It will be even worse if anyone on that stage mentions his absence.

Romney is coming fresh off another uncharacteristic campaign gaffe where he said he probably pays taxes at 15% (referring to his capital gains taxes on investments).  Romney failed to mention that his investment money is first subject to corporate tax rates of up to 35%.  In fact, if Romney were to add up his capital gains tax of 15% and corporate tax of 35%, the result would be much higher than Obama’s 23% income tax rate paid in 2010.  In fact, the Buffet induced myth of CEOs paying less than their secretaries is pretty ridiculous when you consider that Romney could probably have paid Obama’s entire income (including book sales) for 2010 with the taxes he paid.  But instead, Romney shot from the hip and wound up with a tax rate estimate of 15%.

One thing is for sure, this race is still far to volatile for Romney to think he can sit tonight’s debate out.  It may not be a huge mistake, but it is a mistake.  We will see if it affects him.

Newt Gingrich Turns Strong Debate Performance In to a Strong Campaign Ad

Bookmark and Share   One of the most powerful performance in the recent Fox News, South Carolina presidential debate came from Newt Gingrich when panelist Juan Williams asked Newt Gingrich if past remarks he made were racially insensitive.  Few knew that what Williams was actually doing was setting the stage for a moment that Newt Gingrich would turn in to debate history.

The intentionally designed, racially charged, question was meant to put the former House Speaker on the spot and confront a sensitive issue.  Yet Gingrich automatically dismissed the premiss of the question by simply answering “no”.  Then what followed that simple word was an example of inspired oratory skill  that was an eloquent and powerful recitation of shared, basic American principles which were stated with the type of ease, conviction, and forcefulness that could only be carried off by someone who is a true believer in those principles.  They were the principles of equality and personal responsibility, principles which Newt Gingrich used to defy liberal thinking with and to  defend conservative ideology with.

Now Newt turned that moment in to a 30 second ad which will air in South Carolina [see the ad below].

It is called “The Moment” and it takes the most powerful portion of Newt’s answer to Juan Williams’ questions and turns it in to a Lincolnesque moment in history.

For me, this is the first time I have seen Newt Gingrich’s campaign coordinate itself well.  It is the first time he has taken a positive event for his candidacy and build upon it in any meaningful way.

Up to now, Newt has failed miserably at maximizing opportunities.  This time he didn’t.

The new ad not only reminds those who saw the debate from which the Gingrich speech in the commercial comes from, but it affords those who did not see it, the opportunity to be inspired by his words the same way that the audience who heard those words live did.

Between the lack of time left in the campaign and the lack of money available to Newt, I am not sure if this ad will be seen by enough people to make the difference between first and second place in South Carolina, but it is  probably the best chance Newt has at making sure his campaign stays alive for even just a little longer.

For those of you who missed the debate that this “moment” comes from, below you will find the entire segment, including the question from Juan Williams which inspired Newt Gingrich’s inspired answer.

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Sarah Palin Endorses Newt Gingrich……to Keep the Race Going, Not for President

Bookmark and Share   During a Tuesday night Fox News interview,  Sarah Palin told South Carolinians that if she were voting in their primary this Saturday, she would cast her ballot for Newt Gingrich. [see the interview below this post]

Technically, that is an endorsement, but it was qualified by her desire to see Newt win in South Carolina expressly for the purpose of seeing that Republicans continue to vet the candidates.  According to Palin;

“More debates, more vetting of candidates because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted, to the degree that he should have been,”.

She added;

“I want to see that taking place this time because America is on this precipice — it’s that important. We need this process to continue.”

On January 9th, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd, came out and directly endorsed Newt when he released the following statement;

“Newt Gingrich is a true leader, which he has proven not only since the beginning of his campaign, but throughout his career,”

Not long after that, Palin had offered great praise for Rick Santorum and his consistent conservatism.   For a while it looked like she might be leading towards a full-fledged endorsement of Santorum.  But that was not the case.

This recent quasi-endorsement of Gingrich though, is the first time that Sarah Palin has actually suggested that a group of voters come out to vote for a specific Republican presidential candidate.  But it is clear that her call to arms in South Carolina was merely meant to produce a result that would force the Republican nomination to forge ahead and continue testing the candidates.  As a Palinite, I found myself appreciating Palin’s sentiments.  It is one which I myself expressed when early on in the process, I participated as a spectator who was giving all the candidates a chance to woo me over.  While I had my favorites, I did not want to merely give my endorsement away.  I wanted the person I endorse to earn the nomination and prove themselves.  Since then,  I don’t know if any candidate has really earned my endorsement, but based upon the issues and the approach that I have heard each of the candidates claim they would take reagrding those issues, I did endorse Newt Gingrich.  However, I have no problem with him still having to work for the nomination and truly earn it.

Palin is right.  In the end, the tougher this process, the better our candidate will be…..whoever it is.

Meanwhile, the Gingrich campaign did not waste a moment in exploiting the qualified endorsement by Palin.  Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told NBC News .

“We think its a pretty darn clear call to arms,”

Newt’s camp believes it is a call to arms directed at conservatives who many believe can derail the nomination hopes of Mitt Romney if only they got behind one of his opponents instead of splitting their support between three alternatives to Romney.  In the case of Gingrich, he believes that he is the conservative that has the best shot to consolidate that conservative support to win the nomination and then defeat President Obama.

Shortly after Palin’s pitch to South Carolina voters, Gingrich posted the following twitter message;

Newt Gingrich

  newtgingrich  Newt Gingrich

Thanks @sarahpalinusa for throwing your support my way in the South Carolina primary. Watch the Video:  http://youtu.be/xNgRHqvY1z0  #withnewt

Over at Conservatives4Palin.com, one of the leading web-based, pro-Palin organizing networks, some Palinistas were not ready to accept that Palin still won’t be running for President herself in 2012 and were quite adamant about the fact that Sarah’s statement was not endorsement of Newt but rather an endorsement of the process continuing.  And some even suggested that she wants it to continue because Palin may still actually  jump in and run;

According to Min Max

“Look, Romney is NOT the right candidate but neither is Newt. Non of them come even close and if you think a debate between Newt and BO would be something to watch, you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.  Sarah will rip him apart with a wink and a smile.   Friends, you absolutely HAVE to hold the line!”

One C4P participant wrote;

“The longer it takes, the longer she can wait to make her move into the race to take the rest of the delegates in the rest of the states. It is a beautiful strategy.”   

Others were realistic and excepted Palin’s statement for what she actually meant.

tjd4life for wrote:

“She is right! This thing has to continue. We don’t need a coronation right now. If you live in SC, the first thing I would tell you to is vote your conscience. Always do that, but if you want your vote to count and you are in the non-Romney camp, you have to vote for Newt. No if’s and’s or but’s.”

Other comments from Palin supporters applauded her positioning of Newt as the candidate to beat Romney with.

friskyness responded to Palin’s move this way;

“Newt is the only one that can beat Obama!  His debates are spectacular! Our goal is to oust Obama. We can’t do it with mushy Romney!”  

What will be quite interesting here, is the speed in which things can change if Newt does actually win South Carolina.

Although Mitt Romney will still be the likely nominee, if Gingrich does upset Mitt in the Palemtto State primary, the political world will most certainly be talking about the Republican nomination contest being a totally new and different race.  And it will be.  But until Newt can capitalize on his support and momentum it will all be for naught.

Right now Newt Gingrich needs a clear message and theme that can connect with voters and allow them to better relate to him.  He needs to show that he is a steady political hand who is not vulnerable to the mistakes of political novices.  Establishing an effective campaign organization that controls the story and message, while raising the money, doing the proper opposition research, and developing rapid response damage control teams, will all help Newt exploit any success that he could have from a surprise win in South Carolina.  However, the former Speaker of the House is still not convinced that the most basic aspects of conventional campaign management apply to him.

As someone who endorsed Newt for President, I hope he is right.   Unfortunately, I just don’t think he is and while Sarah Palin’s praise of him will help, Newt still does not realize how much his lack of discipline is failing to maximize the benefits that Palins’s words afford him.

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Only Divine Intervention Can Make the Evangelical Endorsement Matter Now

Bookmark and Share  As disgruntled conservatives and the the doubting Thomases of the conservative evangelical community continue to fear the potential candidacy of Mitt Romney,  leading evangelicals met in Texas on Saturday, to finally decide upon a single candidate to unite behind in the hopes of denying Romney the nomination.

After all the hand wringing, they decided to get behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a committed Catholic and self-described consistent conservative.

In explaining the decision, Tony Perkins, the group’s spokesman and President of Family Research Council, said:

“Rick Santorum has consistently articulated the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both economic and social. He has woven those into a very solid platform. And he has a record of stability.”

While the decision and the statement supporting the decision to back Santorum has a plausible tone to it, the facts that led up to the choice of Santorum tell an ugly story which undermines the conclusion that these religious leaders and values voters made.

Rick Santorum is not articulating  “the issues that are of concern to conservatives, both economic and social”, any better now than he was two, three, or four months ago.  Rick Santorum has not “woven those” issues into a more “solid platform” than he already established when he first announced his candidacy.  Yet it took Mitt Romney’s winning of the first nominating caucus and primary for these religious leaders to suddenly decide that Rick Santorum is their man.

The indecision, procrastination, and lack of committment demonstrated by these evangelical leaders up to now,  has essentially made this way too late endorsement of Santorum as the consistent conservative, an incredibly meaningless move that in the final analysis seems to be based less on the actual issues and more upon religious bigotry.

Had these moral men and women been truly sincere and really did believe that Rick Santorum was the best candidate for them and the nation, they would have and should have reached this conclusion well over a month ago, when the decision may have helped Rick Santorum pick up the 9 votes it would have taken for him to actually win in Iowa.  If these people of conviction had the courage to turn their moral conviction in to political courage, they would have united behind Rick Santorum many weeks ago and while Santorum was campaigning in New Hampshire, the evangelical community could have been coordinating their efforts and preparing South Carolina for Santorum.

But for some reason, the spirit to support Rick Santorum suddenly struck these movement conservatives now, when it looks like Mitt Romney might lock up the nomination.

For some reason, I find it hard to believe that the so called consistency of Rick Santorum is the real reason behind their endorsement.  A part of me can’t help but feel that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is more a factor.  While some of the most well known and popular mainstream evangelical leaders have stated that they have no issue with Romney’s faith in a political context, others have not been so tolerant.    One such person is Robert Jeffress of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Pastor Jeffress, a Perry supporter, essentially declared that he disqualified Mitt Romney’s candidacy simply because the former Massachusetts Governor is a Mormon.  And Jeffress is not alone in that sentiment among many people of more mainstream faiths.

In their defense, this group of 150 evangelical leaders may deny that religious bigotry played a role in their decision.  Such denials inevitably make this a my word versus their word issue, but what their is absolutely no denying is the fact that the evangelical base of the Republican Party, embarrassed themselves during this election cycle.

They essentially defeated themselves during this nomination process.  Their inability to agree upon a single candidate as their favorite social conservative, has in large part been the reason for Mitt Romney’s success to date.   Now, at this late stage in the game, their endorsement of Santorum seems to lack any real meaning.  The unavoidable impression they created here is one of last minute desperation which makes their endorsement of Santorum seem quite half hearted and disingenuous and most of all, a last ditch effort designed more to stop Mitt Romney than support Rick Santorum.

Meanwhile, as stated previously, the endorsement is too little, too late.

First of all, in the Bible Belt of South Carolina, Catholics like Rick Santorum are viewed only slightly better than Mormons and the weak endorsement of Santorum by conservative Christian leaders does little to chip away at that bias among the evangelical masses.  Under normal conditions, the endorsement would have certainly helped to convince this voting bloc to approve of the Catholic more than the Mormon, but the inept handling of the evangelical leader’s decision makes these conditions far from normal.  So it would seem that Santorum’s sudden spiritual based support will not save him in South Carolina and it will probably fail to gain traction in Florida, where conservatives are resigning themselves to the inevitability of Romney’s nomination and beginning to unite behind him.

Secondly, the unconvincing sincerity of the evangelical endorsement will do little to help Rick Santorum raise the amounts of money that will be required to continue competing with Romney effectively.

In the end, the entire process leading up to endorsement by these evangelical leaders seems to me to have been quite an unsavory one. I have also found it to be quite hypocritical.  During the Sunday morning news shows, several speakers for this coalition of Christian leaders made it clear that electability was the main reason behind their decision.  Tony Perkins added that Rick Perry was actually the favorite going in to their Saturday meeting, but he failed to meet their electability expectations.  So they went with Santorum.  The problem with that claim is that if electability of someone who promises to commit themselves to the same conservative values that they share, than Mitt Romney would have to  win on that argument.  But there was far more to this decision than electability and the consistency which this Christian coalition also claims led to their endorsement of Santorum.

I believe it came down to the fact that Mitt Romney is a Mormon and that any excuse to deny him their support provided these social conservatives with a quick and easy way to deny religious bigotry played a role in their decision.    Were that not the case, based upon the Christian belief that people can change and redeem themselves, Mitt Romney’s committment to their issues combined with his electability should have allowed them to unite behind Romney.  Instead these religious leaders were more hellbent on just stopping Romney.

The question now becomes, will they be hellbent enough to stop Obama that they will allow themselves to vote for a Mormon come November?

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Gingrich Steps Back and Romney Steps Up

Bookmark and Share    It is most likely too late to make a difference for Newt, but the one time Republican presidential frontrunner has walked back his class warfare inspired attacks on Mitt Romney from the left and denounced a Super PAC for their use of an over the top anti-Romney mini-drama that went after Mitt for his days at Bain Capital.

I previously explained that despite my endorsement of Newt Gingrich, I could not deny my disappointment in his decision to focus more on taking Mitt Romney down with a typical liberal argument, than he was to build himself with conservative oriented, savvy solutions.  The tactic was so disturbing that I considered withdrawing my endorsement but in the end decided that the reasons for my endorsement of Newt have not changed.  However I did make clear that Newt needed to denounce the pro-Gingrich Super PAC airing the anti-Romney movie and the movie itself.  I even went so far as to claim that his unfortunate decision to go the route he did, signaled the end of his campaign and stated that  “I don’t mind defending the candidate I support, but when I have to find good reason to defend my own reasons for continuing to support that candidate, that candidate’s campaign is over.”

Newt apparently came to a similar conclusion.

After opening a campaign headquarters in Orlando, Florida, Newt announced that he was  calling on Winning Our Future, the Super PAC behind the movie to “either edit out every single mistake or pull the entire film”.

Two days earlier, Gingrich publicly stated that his own attack on Romney’s business record were not appropriate.  He told an audience in south carolina that given the backdrop of President Obama, it is impossible to legitimately challenge free market conduct without it being taken out of proper context.

I for one am glad that Newt realized and publicly acknowledged his mistake.  At some point in the future, when the issue is less fresh on the minds of voters, when it comes up again, it will be easy to squash by simply reminding people that even Newt agreed the ad was a dishonest portrayal of Mitt Romney.  However, the damage this did to Newt is undeniable.  It is a hit that he can hardly afford.  And while his numbers in South carolina are looking a tad better than they were a day or two ago,  nationally Newt is still taking hit.  But a new Rasmussen poll shows in South Carolina alone, Newt may be recapturing the momentum.

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll finds Romney ahead with 28% support and Gingrich back on the rise with 21% of the vote.  Rick Santorum on the other hand is trending downward.  He has fallen 8 percentage points and is now tied for third place with Ron Paul at 16%.

If this trend continues, South Carolina will offer Newt Gingrich his very last chance to become an enduring challenger to Mitt Romney.  A win by Gingrich, or anyone else other than Romney in South Carolina will dramatically change the course of this nomination contest.  And if Gingrich can defeat Romney in South Carolina, it will be a new race in Florida and beyond.

Meanwhile the Republican attacks against Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital have prompted the Romney campaign to launch its first ad defending that record. In addition to reasserting the claim that Bain Capital created far more jobs than may have been lost in any one venture, the spot also takes a jab at Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry for their attempts to attack Governor Romney for his work at Bain.

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South Carolina Political Ad Wars Are Well Underway

Bookmark and Share   Since 2000, South Carolina has taken on a reputation as the state in which the presidential primaries get real ugly.  It is a natural result that comes about because of timing and because of its symbolic start of the nomination contest in the all import delegate rich South.

For some candidates, the South is where their greatest strength lies and a win in South Carolina makes it more possible to win the many Southern states that follow, particularly Florida.  But for campaigns that have been battered and bruised in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina always seem to represents a last chance for success.  Those are the campaigns which are usually the most desperate and it is out of desperation that they begin to openly make their strongest, most outrageous, attacks on their rivals.   Then there are the smear campaigns that desperate candidates begin in South Carolina.

In 200o, South carolina Bush supporters began an undergorund effort that saw fliers that labeled McCain “the fag candidate”  circulated in churches.   Then a not so subtle whisper campiagn began to accuse McCain of homosexuality, and having illegitimate children and a drug addicted wife.  Then there was the smear designed to paint McCain as being unstable.  That underground effort was timed to coincide with Bush’s public references to McCain’s “temper”.

With 9 days remaining till voting in South Carolina begins, there will be plenty of time for a whole host of similar whisper campaigns to start.  I expect to hear a few good ones that try to raise doubts about Romney that stem from exaggerations about his Mormon faith, a religion which is about as foreign to South Carolinians as one can possibly get.

In the meantime, the airwaves are being taken over by commercials that reflect very different strategies.

Rick Perry has recently come out with a spot called “President of Honor”.  It tries to spark support for him among the inordinately large military population in South Carolina.

Ron Paul, fresh off of his own slew of negative attack ads like “Betrayal” is also targeting veterans for support of his candidacy.

And while Paul is targeting veterans, a pro-Paul Super PAC called Santa Rita PAC is is doing the same by urging voters to support our troops by supporting Ron Paul.

Then there is a group independent from all the presidential candidates, which is airing an attack on Ron Paul. The Emergency Committee for Israel features Gary Bauer in a spot that takes Ron Paul on for his dangerous foreign policies and conspiracy theories.

Newt Gingrich has chosen to stay focussed on destroying Mitt Romney in his campaign to exact revenge. His most recent South Carolina ad attacks Mitt on the issue of abortion and plays on doubts about Mitt’s conservative credentials.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is leaving the negative attacks up to his supportive Super PACs, such as this one which goes after Newt, sponsored by the pro-Romney PAC, Restore Our Future.

As Mitt leaves the dirty work up to his Super PACs, his campaign is investing most of its money in ads that aim at Barack Obama. Like in this one which he began running last week and which goes after the NLRB decision against Boeing.

A Rick Santorum Super PAC called the Red, White, and Blue Fund is airing a positive piece pitching Santorum as the principled conservative.

While that one is up, flush with an injection of $3 million in donations since his virtual tie in Iowa, Santorum’s campaign is airing another ad which casts him as the full spectrum conservative and the one who can beat President Obama.

And that is all just the beginning. Pretty soon South Carolina’s airwaves will be polluted with more rhetoric, accusations, and false claims than we will be able to keep track of. And that is when the real smear campaigns will begin, when it becomes too hard to really track it back to anyone specific.

But before that happens, Mitt Romney is already airing his ads in Florida, the state where much of this race will conclude. One of Mitt’s first ads up there is entitled Nosotros and essentially speaks to the very influential conservative Cuban American voting bloc in the Sunshine State.

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