In one corner, the guy with all the wives. In the other, the Mormon.
Since 1980, the winner of South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary has gone on to win the GOP nomination. So what happens here today carries considerable weight.
If you follow the polls, the race is up for grabs here.
On the one hand, you have a resurgent Newt Gingrich, who said at one rally on primary eve, “If every conservative of this state decided to vote for Newt Gingrich, we would win a shockingly big victory tomorrow.”
On the other hand, there’s a realistic -sounding Mitt Romney, who told supporters yesterday, “I think I said from the very beginning South Carolina is an uphill battle for a guy from Massachusetts. I knew that we’re battling hard.”
I’m pulling for Newt tonight, if for no other reason than to prolong the race so that we can more thoroughly vet the candidates. I was almost ready to resign myself to Romney running away with the nomination, but his unsteady, flustered answers about his tax returns and his personal wealth during the last debate showed major cracks in his armor. He is not the bulletproof candidate his supporters want to make him out to be, and it would be good for him as a candidate and the GOP as a party to see if he becomes tempered under the first real pressure of this campaign, or if he proves brittle and goes to pieces.
It is far more preferable to have the “inevitable, electable” Romney self-destruct in a contested primary than in the general election. I look forward to Gingrich and Rick Santorum continuing hammering on Romney. If he can take it, then perhaps he is our best shot in November. If he isn’t, I’d rather find that out now, while we still have other options.