In every way in the last two weeks, Romney has signaled he won’t fight for the base. He looks like a lost child when trying to answer the taxes issue. He couldn’t stand up to Santorum in the debate. He sounds every bit like Gordon Gekko, not Milton Friedman, when he talks Bain and free markets.
Basically, today’s vote is about Republican grassroots giving the Washington Republican establishment the finger. The base is angry, and right now, only Newt is left to fight for them, as imperfect as he is. We may still end up with Romney, but voters aren’t going to let him have it easily.
He then links to this piece by Ben Domenech, which collects an informal polling of South Carolinians into a trice of reasons that all amount to the same thing.
Gingrich initially rose, and Perry fell, due to the overabundance of debates this cycle. Everyone – and again, Thursday’s debate was in Charleston – cited this as significant, and Gingrich’s performances in the past two debates have impressed them even as Romney (hounded by Santorum on Romneycare, meandering on his tax returns) turned in arguably two of his worst performances. Consider: both Gingrich and Romney saw the questions coming – Gingrich on his ex-wife, Romney on his tax returns. One was prepared to defend himself, and one seemingly was not.
What this, and his weathering of media attacks, amounts to is that Newt Fights. He fights to defend himself and conservatism. He does so with passion and intelligence. And GOP voters may decide that such is the very thing to finally exorcise the spirit of George W. “Strategery” Bush.
Now, in Florida, or anywhere else, Newt’s bulldog style may cause him more trouble. Stacy McCain remains unconvinced after reading Erickson’s piece that Newt is really the Last Man Standing.
While nobody has appointed me the Omniscient Arbiter, authorized to write articles titled “What It Means,” I can summarize what one of Santorum’s supporters told me last night about what he expects: Newt and Mitt are going to attempt to destroy each other, and all the while Santorum will keep on campaigning, arguing that he is the “conviction conservative,” steadily accruing support from those conservatives who don’t like either Newt or Mitt.
That may indeed be how it works out. Santorum, now the acknowledged winner in Iowa, made a decent if not stunning third-place showing in South Carolina. Which means, although he hasn’t yet done it for me, that he is managing to overcome some of the So-Whatness of his candidacy. By many accounts, his debate performances have been solid if not explosive. In the end, Solid Santorum may find himself the nominee over the Explosive Gingrich.
But none of that matters right now. What matters right now is that the Inevitability Express has been shut down due to lack of interest. What matters now is that my primary vote just might matter. What matters now is that a certain milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts will recieve the message that if he wants to be the President of the United States, he’d best grow a pair.