In a stunning blow to the Romney campaign, Newt Gingrich has taken South Carolina by a whopping 41% – the first time any candidate has taken SC without first winning either Iowa or New Hampshire. It’s a historic upset, and I have a few thoughts about each of the remaining four candidates.
1. Ron Paul – he was done before it started. There is no way that any man who allowed anyone to ghost write racist and homophobic material for his newsletter was going to stand a chance, and that wasn’t all he did; he defended the newsletters at first, never denying anything until 2007, and even then he refused to address his previous defense of them. To this day he has not answered that controversy appropriately. Add on top of that the fact that he has graciously accepted donations and endorsements from the likes of David Duke and his white supremacist organization, Stormfront, and you have a bona-fide loser. I don’t care which way you look at it; no self-respecting black conservative (and there are many) would ever vote for the man. Nor would any Jew or homosexual. Yes, these people all have their rights to their beliefs, but screaming “FIRST AMENDMENT!” isn’t going to win the nomination – in fact, in this case, it’s a damn sure loss. Whether you like it or not people who cannot stand up to that sort of thing will not be invited to lead this country.
2. Rick Santorum – he might have stood a chance if he could have left his religion out of politics. He’s never been able to do that and he has never answered for the remarks he made in 2003 – namely aligning homosexuality with child molestation committed by priests, as well as saying that we as Americans had no right to privacy and sodomy laws should have been re-enacted. He followed all of that up with standing up for SOPA without much explanation (and if I am not mistaken, I believe I have recently heard him reaffirm his belief that we do not have a Constitutional right to privacy, and in 2005 he said on NPR, “I think conservatives understand that most individuals can’t go it alone…”). All of this is based on his very well-known religious beliefs, and I promise you his beliefs haven’t changed. If they had, he would be denouncing his past statements. Since he has not done that, he has managed to alienate a lot of voters. His Iowa win was a fluke – however I believe that now he has too much pride to drop out, even after his astounding loss in South Carolina.
3. Mitt Romney – I will say right now just to clear the air: the fact that he is a Mormon is not an issue, at least not to conservatives. He has never made his faith a cornerstone of his image and never tried to use it to explain his major political ideas, so for now, set that aside. The biggest problem with Romney is that he has zero appeal to the Tea Party and their supporters. Mark will disagree with me on this, but Mitt can’t communicate with them. The biggest reason is Massachusetts health care reform. The short version goes like this: the State of Massachusetts had a very high number of people getting free healthcare through medicare and medicaid; the federal government threatened to yank funding if Romney didn’t do something to lower the number of public healthcare recipients. In the end, he signed a bill into law that carried an individual mandate to buy insurance or face stiff tax penalties, including the loss of exemption for having an income below a certain level – however those with income low enough would still see their healthcare subsidized and employers were required to provide a certain amount of coverage. Rather than asking why there were so many people getting free government-funded healthcare, he further expanded government power on it and then explained it away by claiming that it was conservative in a way because it didn’t result in a government takeover of healthcare. Once he got into the issue, there was no reigning it in, either…he tried to veto eight different highly controversial provisions of the bill, including a nearly $300 fee for every small business employee that the business didn’t provide insurance for, but every single veto was sharply overridden by the Democrats he’d been so cuddly with, who proceeded to pass a bill that so overreached into the freedoms of residents of the State that the bill was mirrored on the federal level just as soon as Obama took office. He cannot escape Romneycare.
4. Newt Gingrich – Newt had been lagging behind until the recent debate. FAR behind, in fact. Most pundits had already decided that the race was already between Romney and Santorum and had already proceeded accordingly. With this week’s debate, however, Newt proved himself more than capable of handling himself – in the first 90 seconds of the debate, he roused not one but TWO standing ovations when he raked moderator John King over the coals for bringing up the recent ABC interview with his ex-wife in which she claimed that he had asked her for an “open marriage”. Now, this isn’t the first time she’s made incredible claims about him, so coming from her, this is not news; what he could have said was, “John, I would really like to know where all of this concern about allegations of infidelity were in the 90’s, when you and your fellow press activists gave Bill Clinton a free pass on all kinds of misconduct, including practically ignoring allegations that he had raped a woman!” However, he stuck to his own issues and displayed more class than I apparently have by only answering for himself. He kicked it off by lambasting the press for their outrageous bias and telling behavior, and that set the tone for the rest of his campaign. If he keeps it up he could very well be the nominee – and possibly the next president.