Sunday, January 15, 2012

GOP - South Carolina Style

Yesterday I wondered if Republicans were watching the Broncos-Patriots game, who were they cheering for? Broncos-Patriots was like Jesus vs. America. The Broncos have Jesus, a la Tim Tebow, and the Patriots are well, the Patriots. If you root for one, you're against the other, right? So if you're for Jesus, you're anti-American. But if you're for America, you're a godless heathen. What happens if you take the Republicans' two most sacred things and make them fight? Well, Jesus gets his ass kicked 45-10.

But speaking of Christians and Republicans...Mitt Romney. Romney will win his party's nomination, but he won't get much love from the grassroots conservative base of the GOP. I guess to their credit, they can spot a fake a million miles away. But they did nominate John McCain and George H. W. Bush in the post-Reagan world.

Romney won the first two rounds of the GOP's nominating contests, Iowa and New Hampshire. He barely got by Iowa, which his critics immediately seized an opportunity to move the goal posts and declare lost by winning the whole thing by a mere eight votes. Ouch. To me, he won. A win's a win. The talk leading up to the New Hampshire Primary was that he had to win by 15 points in order to really "win." Well, he did exceed that expectation.

I'm not sympathetic to Romney. He's very contrived, wooden, and inauthentic. He attacks Jon Huntsman for having served in the Obama administration, while as he admits, was spending the last three years trying to defeat this administration. Nothing like playing to the crowd to score a cheap applause.

As Hunstman stoically pointed out, he was serving his country, just as his sons are in the Navy, regardless of the President's affiliation. A good line for people like me, but then again, people like me are outvoted 12-1 every time.

But there's never a genuine moment with Romney. How many people can recall an unscripted moment with the former Governor? He's got a few lines to say and he's sticking with them. Even if it means completely not answering a question in a debate, in an interview, in a conference.

South Carolina is going to be a different fight altogether. In Iowa, you had a large share of evangelical voters; in New Hampshire, you did not. South Carolina is the first RED state of the red state primaries. As hard as Romney must try to win over those evangelical conservative voters in the Palmetto State, he knows he's better served by candidates Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry splitting those votes and walking away with at least 25% of the vote, regardless if he wins or loses.

Romney is in an enviable position in South Carolina. He doesn't have to win, but he might. He just has to tread water for the next six days and hope the conservatives don't coalesce around Ricks Perry or Santorum (or Newtie).

But South Carolina is tough. The 2000 GOP Primary got nasty once it headed to South Carolina. Team Bush notoriously started the use of push polls against John McCain. They would make calls (I think they were robocalls if I'm not mistaken) to random homes, falsely stating that McCain had fathered a black child. (The child in question was Bridget, the daughter they adopted from Bangladesh.)

Romney's challengers have six more days to tear him down, tear each other down, or build themselves up in order to put them in position to compete with him for the next few weeks. I wonder if the most vulnerable candidate is Rick Perry. Perry invested so much time in this state because he knew he had no shot at New Hampshire. If he fails to place at least a close second, I think it hurts his chances in Florida, ten days later, and then after that, he's done.

The great thing about this - we've got six more days to find out.

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