On to South Carolina

Mittens has a formidable lead in South Carolina polls, and it’s going to be fun to see how it holds up in the coming week.

Steve Kornacki says that Newt and Perry — mostly Newt, though — will be bashing Perry Romney with Bain Capital. Thanks to his recent but short-lived surge, Newt has money.

Gingrich will head to South Carolina intent on exploiting every one of Romney’s vulnerabilities in the state, and he’ll be aided by at least $5 million from a casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who is bankrolling a Super PAC that aims to do to Romney what Romney did to Gingrich in Iowa.

The South Carolina campaign is just beginning, Kornacki says.

Romney enters South Carolina as the favorite. A poll last week, just after Iowa, put him at 37 percent, his best showing of the entire campaign and nearly 20 points ahead of the next candidate. The numbers showed that Romney is very capable of winning the state, especially if the rest of the field remains split (Santorum finished second in the poll with 19 percent, while Gingrich was at 18 — meaning that together they accounted for the same share of the vote as Romney). But the numbers also came with a giant asterisk: Millions and millions of dollars in vicious attack ads aimed at reminding South Carolinians of all of the many reasons they have to be suspicious of Romney had not yet run.

Those ads will hit the airwaves tomorrow and won’t stop until the 21st. Romney may still emerge with a victory, and thus the nomination. But it’s not going to be pretty.

On the other hand — Jonathan Martin and John Harris write at Politico that the GOP establishment is rallying around Romney now.

These influential voices — who include many fund-raisers and other sorts of people who are unwise for politicians to alienate — will greet the kind of scorched-earth tactics necessary to slow Romney’s march with hostility.

— Many conservative activists, while not especially enthusiastic about Romney or his establishment backers, are appalled by the odd turn of campaign rhetoric in the closing days of New Hampshire, with Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman taking aim at Romney’s record running the private equity firm Bain Capital. These people, who include radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, are apoplectic that anti-Romney Republicans are making common cause with anti-business Democrats.

Of course, in Reality World, opposition to Mittens’s style of cancerous vampire squid exploitation capitalism is not “pro business” at all, since it actually destroys business. But in the minds of the GOP establishment, capitalism really is the ability of a handful of rich people to manipulate the lives of thousands of people and then walk off with the money. And protecting that ability means more to them than duty, honor, country, or anything else. They’d sell their grandmas first.

And you know every cog in the noise machine, from Rush Limbaugh to Faux News, will be ordering the people of South Carolina to vote for Mitt, or else. Because from now on he will be branded the only true Republican in the race. Just watch. As for Newt, the genuinely demented James Taranto is calling him “Barack Hussein Gingrich.”

Taranto also says that Gingrich’s attacks against Romney now will inoculate Romney against similar attacks in the general election. I don’t see why that would be true, however. Romney really is a disgusting piece of work. Unlike George W. Bush, who was able to keep the shoddy details of his “oil man” career mostly hidden from the public in 2000, Romney’s dirty laundry will be in plain view from now until November, assuming he’s the nominee. If anything, it might actually help Obama that Republicans are dishing this stuff now. It makes the attacks seem nonpartisan and more credible to the public.

Update: See also Joan Walsh, “GOP Rallies Around Vulture Capitalism, Not Romney.”

It’s an interesting moment. Multiple news organizations reported that even close allies are telling Gingrich to cut out the attacks on Romney, but he’s already purchased an estimated $1.5 million in South Carolina airtime for his “House of Bain” spots, plus a nasty ad claiming Romney had “governed pro-abortion” in Massachusetts. What’s Gingrich going to do? He hates Romney, but he loves predatory capitalism as much as Limbaugh does. He doesn’t believe his own Bain Capital attacks. Can he continue to hurt Romney without damaging his own chances to return to the right-wing gravy train when he goes down to defeat? Trust me, the monied interests are not interested in hiring anti-capitalist “historians” to not-lobby for them. Gingrich is torn between vengeance and greed. Sucks to be him. Fun to watch.


3 thoughts on “On to South Carolina

  1. South Carolina?
    And here I thought it was NC – “Nullification Carolina.”

    And it’s not until the 21st? JEEZ!!!

    Oh, well, at least I can be thankful I don’t have to listen to Ol’ Pat Buchanan’s racist, xenophobic and misogynistic pie-hole on MSNBC anymore, since it looks like they gave him the heave-ho after his most recent book – which, in fact, was pretty much the same as any of this other books, which read like Aryan right’s puff-pieces.

  2. It’s going to be interesting to see what Newt is made of. Whether he’ll back-pedal or really tell us what he thinks. I feel like wiring Sheldon Adelson some flowers. You really mean “Romney” and not “Perry” in your 2nd sentence – You’re welcome.

  3. There’s no two ways about it; what Bain does is odious; it is predatory; it does NOT serve the public good; it does not help the companies it purportedly helps. Most years this would all go unnoticed, but the continuing Bush Recession, and, yes, SOME of OWS’s rhetoric is changing public discourse. Being Daddy Warbucks doesn’t look so good anymore.

    Funny Rush is confused about how to respond!

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