Saturday Reads: South Carolina Primary Edition

You're despicable!

Good Morning! It’s Saturday, and tonight is the South Carolina primary and Sky Dancing will be following the results tonight. But I have cartoons on my mind. Last night I was watching Hardball, and there was a discussion of Newt Gingrich’s hissy fit at the beginning of the CNN South Carolina debate on Thursday night. Here’s the video:

Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, and Eugene Robinson discussed Newt’s performance and decided that he hit all the right notes for South Carolina–anger at the media and the “elites,” a sense of being victimized by the power structure–and in fact may even beat Romney tonight. But the best part was when Eugene Robinson said when Newt said “despicable,” he (Robinson) couldn’t help thinking of Daffy Duck.

It’s such a perfect image for Newt’s self-righteous, overblown act. And it is an act, as far as I’m concerned. I loved the way he turned around the question about what he did to his ex-wife by talking about how *he* felt pain, not that he caused pain to his wife Marianne or anyone else. Here’s how I’ll forever think of Newt Gingrich from now on–as Daffy having a hissy fit.

And here’s what I’d like to say to Newt Gingrich:

Just one more …. What I’d like to do to Rick Santorum:

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a morning news post. So here are a few news and opinion links for you.

The latest polls suggest the South Carolina primary will be very close. The Clemson Palmetto poll has Gingrich in the lead.

“We expect a reaction by the electorate to the personal revelations about Gingrich to be registered on Saturday, however, we do not think it will be substantial enough to erase the lead Gingrich has over Romney,” said Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard.

“Our head-to-head matchup of the candidates has consistently shown Mitt Romney competitive. The margin for Romney has evaporated this week, and we believe that Gingrich — who led our December poll with 38 percent to Romney’s 21 percent — will win the South Carolina primary,” he said.

Among poll respondents who had chosen or were leaning toward a candidate, this third Palmetto Poll showed Newt Gingrich (32 percent) leading the field over Mitt Romney (26 percent), up slightly from a month ago. Ron Paul came in third (11 percent), about even with his December poll rating. Rick Santorum remained in fourth place (9 percent), despite a significant jump over his ranking last month.

Wow! What an amazing turnaround for Daffy, I mean Newt. The NBC News Marist poll (PDF) showed the race tightening before the debate and even more so afterwards. And today’s Gallup tracking poll showed that Romney’s lead over Gingrich nationally has shrunk dramatically.

Mr. Romney’s position nationally as the front-runner appears to be weakening. In the latest release of Gallup’s tracking poll, conducted Sunday through Thursday, Mr. Romney leads Mr. Gingrich, 30 percent to 20 percent. Mr. Santorum and Mr. Paul are each supported by 13 percent.

At the start of the week, Mr. Romney had a 23-point advantage over Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum. These results only partially reflect the events of the week, including the departure of Rick Perry on Thursday, the focus on Mr. Romney’s taxes, Mr. Gingrich’s two debate performances and the revelation that Mr. Santorum had apparently won the Iowa caucuses after all.

The NYT reports that Romney’s people are in shock over the sudden reversal of their fortunes.

With Mitt Romney facing the biggest challenge to his presidential aspirations since he announced his candidacy, his aides acknowledged Friday what seemed unthinkable just seven days ago: He could lose the South Carolina primary….

Having been stripped of his victory in Iowa on Thursday after a recount that gave the state to Rick Santorum, Mr. Romney now is in danger of being defeated in Saturday’s primary here by Newt Gingrich, who had been declared dead not once but twice in the past year, including less than two weeks ago when he finished fifth in New Hampshire. A new Clemson University poll of South Carolina voters released on Friday showed Mr. Gingrich with a six-point lead over Mr. Romney. It was within the survey’s margin of sampling error but captured a dynamic shifting in Mr. Gingrich’s favor.

At this stage of a primary election, campaigns work hard to manage expectations so they can put the best possible face on the actual voting results; Mr. Romney’s aides were no doubt being mindful of that as they spoke in relatively gloomy tones.

But, as Mr. Romney faced attacks from all sides, renewed questions about his own stumbles and whether he is conservative enough for the grass roots of his party, there was a real aura of apprehension coursing through his campaign. With his prospects of wrapping the race up quickly apparently diminished, Mr. Romney and his strategists began preparing his staff, his supporters and his financial bundlers for a longer and rougher march toward the nomination.

Boo hoo hoo. Poor Richie Rich! Karl Rove must be having a conniption fit. Honestly, I’d be worried if I thought the Republican insiders would ever give the nomination to Newt; but frankly, I’m still a lot more worried about Mitt winning it.

Charlie Pierce is down in SC right now. Let’s see what he has to say about all this.

It was always going to happen this way — Newt was going to go back into his wheelhouse, ripping the media and spouting in the general direction of the White House whatever pile of pejorative adjectives popped into his head at the moment. He tried, lamely, to be a statesman, and the party faithful ignored him. Once he became the vandal he was born to be, the political arsonist among the abandoned tenements of Republican thought, he was bound to take off again. The base doesn’t want someone whose ideas on job creation will triumph because they are superior to the president’s. They want somebody who can beat him bloody, vicariously, on their behalf, somebody who can “put him in his place.” They want someone who will kill the administration just for the sheer fun of watching it die. That’s why Newt’s fortunes took off after he slapped around Juan Williams on Monday night, and that’s why they went into hyper-drive on Thursday when he declared to be “despicable” any public mention of the chronic staff-banging that wrecked his second marriage and that helped wreck his speakership. Sooner or later, he was going to light the whole race on fire just to giggle over the flames, and that meant he had to come do it in South Carolina, and that meant he had to come do it in the upcountry around Greenville, where the base of the base always has been located, where people can be found who will gleefully join him around the bonfire, where is located the ancient home office of American treason.

“Look,” says Kellen Giuda, the young National Coalitions Director for the Gingrich campaign, waving his hand over a map of the state that hangs on the wall not far from The Cold War Room, “this area down here in the South, this was always more moderate. This is where McCain won last time. Up here, around Greenville, that’s always been the more conservative area. This time, people concentrated their effort down there near Charleston, because they wanted to get that whole military vote down there locked up. But, now, they’re starting to see that this is the place where the conservative vote really come from.” The endorsements are coming thick and fast now — Rick Perry! Michael Reagan! One-hundred Tea Party leaders from around the country! — and they are settling on Newt, and not on Rick Santorum, because Santorum, while admittedly a dick, is not an angry bully of a dick, and that’s what the base is looking for. In fact, the Gingrich campaign tore up its schedule on Friday, and will now have the candidate working the upcountry districts around Greenville hard all primary day.

“An angry bully of a dick.” Just what we need in the White House.

This is interesting: Catholic Leaders Challenge Gingrich and Santorum on Divisive Rhetoric Around Race and Poverty

More than 40 national Catholic leaders and prominent theologians at universities across the country released a strongly worded open letter today urging “our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail.”

In the lead up to Saturday’s primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich has frequently blasted President Obama as a “food stamp president” and implied that some African Americans are more content to collect welfare benefits than work. Rick Santorum attracted scrutiny for telling Iowa voters he doesn’t want “to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.”

The open letter reminds the two presidential candidates, vying for Christian conservative voters, that U.S. Catholic bishops have called racism an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans.

The full text of the letter is at the above link. Let’s face it, both Santorum and Gingrich are just cafeteria Catholics. They go along with the Church on abortion, birth control, and other anti-woman positions; but when it comes to war, capital punishment, and caring for the poor and downtrodden, they go their own way.

Speaking of Santorum, Politico reported on his SC closing argument: “values.”

The former Pennsylvania senator retreated to comfortable territory, the conservative Upstate region of South Carolina, to speak to huge crowds about values and cement his base on the eve of the state’s primary.

“It’s decision time as to what South Carolina is going to communicate to the rest of the country,” he told the crowd at a packed town hall meeting in Boiling Springs.”What is the Upstate going to say? Who are they going to stand behind? What message are they going to send to country as to who the conservative standard-bearer will be?”

“It’ll be you, Rick!” audience members shouted, applauding.

Polls show that tomorrow’s race here is really between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich: Santorum is competing for third place with Ron Paul. But the former Pennsylvania senator has vowed to continue his campaign to Florida, which votes Jan. 31. A strong performance in the conservative bastions of South Carolina can propel his argument that he is the real conservative in the race.

I know Santorum has no shot to win the nomination this year, but my guess is he’ll be back in 2016. I think he’s very dangerous to democracy, and IMHO we need to keep an eye on him. As for Ron Paul, I’m boycotting him in this post.

That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading and blogging about today?


33 Comments on “Saturday Reads: South Carolina Primary Edition”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Romney must be stunned to think for one minute that his “inevitability”, thin as it was but there only because the other challengers were so unfitting, is now looking at his serious competition being Newt Gingrich of all people.

    Though both are wholly acceptable to lead a trip to the bathroom, Newt Gingrich is breathing down his stiff neck and that must “smart”.

    If ever there was a “foreign place” in this country, South Carolina has to be it.

    Sorry to say, when I hear the word “redneck” SC comes to mind.

    SC. the home of Jim Demint, wears its racist meanness on its sleeve and seems to take a lot of pride in doing so.

  2. Great post, bb. When Newter started with the following – “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the media” my first thought was that he’s right……..about FOX news. FOX began this whole attack mode in media & are the poster child for it. And Newter is one of the worst of the worst (except for maybe Rush) for his hyperbolic, vicious, nasty rhetoric. King’s question wasn’t a hardball question, it was actually offered in a respectful manner, “would you like to respond to this?” King actually set Newter up to hit it out of the park.

    Long before this past week with Newter’s debate performance & Romney’s gaff after gaff, I’ve felt that Newter was going to win the SC primary, despite the polls. The bitterness about the Civil War loss, the devotion to the Confederacy is alive and well in the South. If you ain’t a Southerner, you’re a Yankee and can’t be trusted. Granted some “southern” states like NC, Virginia & Florida have been infiltrated by Yankees and “immigrants”, but the others remain firmly in that Dixie state of mind. Romney & Santorum are clearly Yankees. Newt is oddly considered a good ole Southern boy from Georgia, although as a child his family moved from military base to military base and he doesn’t have a Southern drawl. He’s family.

    I watched most of Hardball last night too. Although Matthews is my least favorite of the MSNBC lineup (love Rachel), I think he made a good point last night. Many, if not most, of those who will vote Republican in the presidential election are doing so because they want Obama beaten up & out of office. They want someone who they feel will beat the crap out of Obama. They are less concerned about the policies, ideas and political positions of their choice, they just want Obama gone. Newter has shown he’s a fighter and has no problem pounding the crap out of anyone he’s up against. Newter’s poll numbers started rising when he took off his mantle of the new kinder, gentler Newter and came out punching. They want a bully and that’s what they’ve got in The Newter.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think you’re right. They do want to get rid of Obama more than anything. But they are nuts if they think Newt can do it. His act won’t play well with the general election voters.

      • Super Tuesday! It’s going to be interesting once the American Taliban Convention convenes in Tampa. Busch Gardens may want to reinstate their free beer at the park. Once “the candidate” has been selected, the general election should be fun to watch.

        Has anyone else noticed that the MSNBC pundits have selective amnesia about the 2008 debates? All of them are touting Obama’s debating skills. I seem to remember Hillary kicking his butt in all of them. Then again, I might be the one who is delusional. In the current American Taliban field, Newt is the only one, IMHO, that is capable of holding his own even against Obama’s (what I perceive as) weak debating skills. But, I agree with you, I just don’t see Newter appealing to a majority American vote in the general election. He could, however, make more people get off their butts and actually VOTE, if for no other reason than to vote against him. My delusional side is rearing its ugly head again……………….I have to believe most people see Newter as an arrogant, condescending, foolish, philandering blowhard. I’m sticking with my belief that Gore’s wooden debate performances and some creative vote counting got King George II elected to his first term. The climate of fear perpetrated on the American people got him his 2nd term.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hillary did kick Obama’s butt in the debates, but of course the media covered for him. This time I think Obama will be better prepared to handle the debates, plus he’ll have the gravitas that goes with being President. Newt won’t be able to get away with the racist dog whistles, and he’ll look mean and nasty. Most Americans really hate the guy.

      • ralphb says:

        America really hates Newt Gingrich. Just take a look at these fav/unfav numbers.

        http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/america-hates-newt-gingrich/326161

      • ralphb says:

        Connie, you are so right. I remember watching one of Peter Hart’s focus groups from Ohio on c-span and it was quite evident that Bush was going to get a 2nd term because of the fears expressed by the participants. I was especially struck by the women who said they were a little afraid to take their children to the malls because of potential terrorists.

        With Kerry as the nominee, Bush was virtually assured of winning. Lurch was such a loser.

        • I remember seeing Kerry on Meet the Press. Had never heard of him before. I can’t remember if it was before or after he announced his candidacy. I was impressed with what he said, how he said it. But on the campaign trail & in the debates – whoa! His performances & the Swift Boat ads dug the hole & sealed his coffin. But anyone would have been hard pressed to beat Bush – people were oozing fear…..smoking guns, mushroom clouds, terrorists around every corner or even living next door. We must fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here. Holy crap!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    The new PPP poll has Gingrich leading Romney by 9 points!

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/01/newt-expands-south-carolina-lead.html

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Gallup says Romney’s support is “collapsing” nationally.

    http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/gallup-romney-support-collapsing-nationally.php?ref=fpb

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Oh dear….Republicans insiders are getting worried.

    Romney seems to have gone into a defensive crouch, leaving many Republicans feeling like football fans who watch their team move to a ‘prevent defense’ to protect a fourth-quarter lead and dread losing all of it. Their nerves are being jangled even as they acknowledge that outright disaster has so far been averted.

    “For some reason, he has slipped into this ‘I’m trying not to lose’ mode — and that’s when you do lose,” said Republican strategist Keith Appell, who is not aligned with any of this year’s presidential candidates.

    It’s important not to overstate the perils Romney faces. He is still by far the best-funded candidate in the race. He has a state-by-state infrastructure that is the envy of his rivals. Even if he were to lose Saturday’s South Carolina primary, he would likely remain the overall favorite to clinch the nomination.

    But the procession of errors has been striking nonetheless — and it has raised concerns among many in the GOP about his vulnerabilities in a general election contest with President Obama.

  6. ralphb says:

    Come Saturday Morning: Too Big to Fail, Jail – or Even Pay Taxes?

    Power company Pepco Holdings apparently had the lowest tax rate, at negative 57.6 percent. The report said some companies came up with so many tax breaks that their taxes were in effect “negative,” and they even received tax rebate checks from the U.S. Treasury. It explained that “negative tax rates” mean that the company made more after taxes than before taxes.

    Wells Fargo received the most in tax subsidies among all 280 companies, raking in nearly $18 billion in tax breaks in the last three years. All 280 companies took in a combined $222.7 billion in tax subsidies over the last three years.

    It can’t be said often enough how much this really sucks!!!!!

    • Food stamps & welfare & unemployment compensdaton: bad for America, bad for people.

      Tax loopholes, government subsidies for corporations: it’s a good thing because they are JOB CREATORS.

      Yeah, irght.

      • ralphb says:

        Those negative tax rates for big business really do wonders for our deficit. If anyone cared about it, this would be reversed overnight.

      • Fannie says:

        Connie, they use code……..no longer say job creators, but career creators.

  7. This is interesting from the NYT – favorability of candidates in last several elections, following the NH primary: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/14/romney-obama-no-popularity-contest/

  8. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB, love this post, love the cartoons, love the duck! And what wonderful comments…it is great to see a real discussion going on.

  9. Roofingbird says:

    I’m determined to stay to dial up this year, if I can, for the election. I want to see what a large portion of the population still sees. So I’ll just say it took me 20 minutes and 5 reloads to get this post with 3 errors. I am effectively unable to view the video imbeds.

    Though it was discussed in the last election, not much has been done to provide accessible internet information for the population of folks outside the cities, and for many inside who cannot afford the extra expense.

    I don’t know what, if anything, can be done, but it is a matter of classism and deprivation. I love what you all do, you have great commenters, and I think it’s important.

    • ralphb says:

      That’s a real sore spot for me. If we had universal, or near universal, high speed internet in this country it could be a real boom time for jobs in rural and small town America. One of the reasons big bisiness outsourced to India was that it was in many cases easier than doing it to lower cost of living areas in the US. Though that was not the dispositive reason, it helped make the decision to go offshore.

      Universal high speed internet should be proposed and sold to the public like the Interstate Highway System was in the ’50s, as a national security issue and a jobs bonanza.