The former Speaker’s victory in South Carolina shows this race is still any man’s game.
By Micah Hanks
It was a good night for New Gingrich… a very good night, in fact.
Charles Hurt of the Washington Times described the battle that waged up until last night in South Carolina as “a week of more heartache and drama than Gone with the Wind,” and an unfolding of events “so Southern Gothic as to make William Faulker wake from the dead to enjoy the show.”
Indeed, there have been a number of comparisons to days of old and the Civil War South as the battle leading up to yesterday’s primary waged on. Matt Drudge featured historic renderings of the battle of Fort Sumter, one the famous standing Civil War era bastions along the outer coast of the Palmetto State, at the top of his website. Further comparisons to the South and Civil War transpired elsewhere, amidst renewed interest in a 2003 video of Ron Paul speaking about secession while standing before a large Confederate Flag (yes, despite the man’s own clear-cut approaches to reducing spending and the overextension of Federal powers, poor Dr. Paul just can’t seem to escape past associations that would characterize him favoring bigoted attitudes, and of the variety once favored especially among Southern Democrats).
Mitt Romney, after surging ahead in polls and remaining unscathed in debates—though perhaps a bit less substantive in comparison with Gingrich or Paul—recoiled as an overwhelming majority of districts reporting continued to favor Gingrich throughout the evening. “The Republican Party doesn’t demonize prosperity,” he said, chiding his opponents. “We celebrate success in our party… if Republican leaders want to join this president in demonizing success and disparaging conservative values, then they’re not going to be fit to be our nominee.”
Along with the presumed surge Gingrich managed to clinch with his intrepid delivery during the CNN debate last week, Romney cited failure to address the release of his tax returns in a timely manner as potential cause for the fallout among voters. Speaking on the Sunday news shows, the former Massachusetts Governor, who had initially said his tax records would be released closer to the filing date on April 17, will now hope to have them posted online and available for viewing within the week.
Gingrich, on the other hand, made his records available the night of the CNN debate, lambasting moderator John King for opening with questions about Gingrich’s ex wife, who claimed earlier in the week that Newt had requested having an “open marriage.” Despite the allegations, Gingrich seemed to position himself to gain from the attention, launching a fiery retort against King in the opening minutes of the debate, and presenting a show-stealing moment that no doubt garnered favor with mere hours before South Carolinians began casting votes.
Many still remain skeptical of Gingrich, and the volatile ups and downs his campaign has shown thus far. “The truth is, nobody actually likes Mr. Gingrich,” Charles Hurt wrote in his Washington Times editorial. “They just really don’t like Mr. Romney or Mr. Santorum, and they are a little worried about Rep. Ron Paul.” And no doubt, such lackluster attitudes will continue, until one of these candidates manages to convince a tempestuous and fickle public of their merit for candidacy, or they surge ahead nonetheless, claiming a position within the GOP that in a year like 2012 simply cannot be ignored. For now, at least, it seems that while fervent pockets exist in key states and among certain demographics, the majority of potential GOP voters favor Rhett Butler’s famous damning sentiments instead; and frankly, dear friends, that means this election could still erupt into the kind of chaos evocative of brokered conventions and political horse-trading in the weeks and months to come. Southern gothic, indeed.
Image by johnmaloof via Flickr.