After South Carolina, how Romney should fight back

A week ago, Mitt Romney led Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina opinion polls by an average of eight percentage points. Today, he is licking his wounds from a 12-point loss there in the only poll that matters, the one taken at the ballot box.

Romney spent Sunday suggesting he will sharpen his attacks on Gingrich, particularly his character and past leadership performance, and that’s fair game and fine as far as it goes. But South Carolina voters — and Republican voters more broadly — have not gravitated toward Gingrich because they think his track record in those areas is superlative, or even because they’re unaware of his shortcomings in them. He has attracted voters because he’s proven willing to be a fighter, while Romney has come off as unwilling to protest as much.

That this would have happened in South Carolina after attacks by Gingrich and his super PAC against Romney’s record at Bain Capital, and by others about Romney’s wealth and tax payments, is telling (note I did not say Gingrich had proven willing to fight for conservative principles, in large part because of those not-so-conservative attack lines). Romney needs to find his voice on those issues of wealth, taxes and free enterprise that Democrats are bound to use against the GOP’s nominee, particularly if it’s him. That vulnerability has made Republicans question whether Romney is up to the task.

The race is now bound to continue well past Florida — although, even with its reduced delegate total, that will be a huge test for Romney’s ability to regroup and regain the initiative in a state where he has held a sizable lead in most polls. After that, Georgia will come into play as a crucial state on Super Tuesday (March 6).

Hang on, because we’re going to get to see a real barn-burner of a primary up close and personal.

– By Kyle Wingfield

111 comments Add your comment

Joel Edge

January 23rd, 2012
5:18 am

There’s just one problem with Romney ‘finding his voice’. After he is nominated, he may lose it again. Romney is not a good choice.

Aquagirl

January 23rd, 2012
5:36 am

The scraping sound you hear is sharpening knives all across America. Newt has made plenty of enemies, they’ll be after the new frontrunner. Add in Newt’s tendency to self-destruct and he’ll never make it to the White House.

God, I love watching the GOP implode.

Paul

January 23rd, 2012
5:55 am

Surely Obama is thoroughly enjoying this – immense resources being squandered by the GOP, eating their own, and not a viable contender in the lot. Special kudos to South Carolina – even his own Republican Party booted Newt from the House Speaker position that he ironically wears like a badge of honor.

DeborahinAthens

January 23rd, 2012
6:28 am

So Americans want a fighter–at any cost? Newt is seriously not what this country needs. He is not smart, he is not a leader, he is a strutting banty rooster that has a disconnect in his head and soul between what his reality IS and what he wishes the voters to THINK it is. He was a horrible Speaker of the House that was shown the door by his own Republicans. He is a flake that proposes things like putting mirrors in space to light streets at night. So far we have heard NOTHING of his plans to create jobs other than de-regulate everything, and take away a decent paying jobs from janitors (who,but the way, in many cases, runs the physical plant of schools as well as cleaning) to kids. This man has lied about being a lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack. Again, the disconnect. He really believes he was a “historian” or a “consultant” not a lobbiest. Even Republican darling Chris Christy called hin a liar on that one. Is hea fighter–you bet. But he is a horror of a man that has no business running for any public office. The fact that he’s gotten this far is frightening. If you recall, Dubya the Dumb had the same disconnect between what went on in his brain and reality. We can’t do that again.

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 23rd, 2012
6:36 am

Romney has a tough row to hoe. Paul has captured the libertarian wing, Newt and Santorum are splitting the religious crazies, and Newt is the darling of the white racists, birthers, Islamophobics, women-haters and xenophobes that make up the majority of the GOP.

Romney, despite his attempts at building his “kkkonsrvative” street-cred, Romney is seen as a moderate, and there are damn few moderates in today’s GOP.

Maybe he could use the n-word about Obama, the ooogedy-boogedy crowd would love that.

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
7:23 am

Newt should be more concerned that Brian Williams — moderator of tonight’s Florida debate — will fight back if Newt decides to attack the “liberal elite media” again. There are questions that can be asked that Newt won’t like. King is a lightweight when it comes to thinking on his feet. Williams won’t be such a pushover.

Proud Democrat

January 23rd, 2012
7:24 am

Newt is riding high from all the hot air in his fat stomach. Please make him the nominee, Obama will squeeze all the hot air fromhim in a debate. Heck, I could debate newt and make him cry again, just talking about his past and how he left a cancer wife for a new one.. Who in thier right mind could support someone who did this???/ As President, will he abandon this country for England if times are bad????

Dumb and Dumber

January 23rd, 2012
7:33 am

Romney could always try flip-flopping; its brought him this far. Its a can’t not miss strategery.

jconservative

January 23rd, 2012
7:34 am

“(note I did not say Gingrich had proven willing to fight for conservative principles,…”

That is because Gingrich has no conservative principles.

House Republicans did not fire Gingrich as Speaker because he was a crook, but because he sold out to the Clinton administration over tax policy. Gingrich is not, was not, and has never been a conservative, He is the perfect example of the term “RINO”.

But he does blast the press. So if Republicans want someone in the White House who just does that, then that is the way for them to vote.

But I do not believe that the independents who put a liberal Obama in the White House, who re-elected a liberal George W, will support a candidate whose only redeeming quality is criticizing the press. And without the independent vote a Republican loses to Obama.

k483

January 23rd, 2012
7:51 am

@byteme,

Agreed. Newt pulled a good one by deflecting criticism back at the institution most disliked in the auditorium. I doubt that will happen again. Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, so the saying goes….that said, I find it really interesting that they didn’t pick him apart on his “why won’t Romney tell us about his personal (tax return) life” vs. “How dare you ask me about my personal (infidelity) life.”

reebok

January 23rd, 2012
7:53 am

President Obama has got to be loving this.

JDW

January 23rd, 2012
7:55 am

It is interesting to watch the Republicans eat their young (old). I find it unbelievable that a former Republican Speaker, who was summarily tossed out of office for poor ethics and leadership and has spent the last 15 years selling influence to the highest bidder can garner any votes much less threaten to capture a nomination.

The real question is fast becoming can the Dems regain the House.

BTW great article from Andrew Sullivan in Newsweek this week. I think he nails it.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/andrew-sullivan-how-obama-s-long-game-will-outsmart-his-critics.html

HDB

January 23rd, 2012
8:00 am

What you’re seeing is that the Republicans don’t care about the NATION…only caring about maintaining power and wealth in the hands of the privileged few. People…especially those in the GOP need to WAKE UP and see what they’re doing!! As long as Republicans are content with marginalization and disenfranchisement…..those knowledgable voters will notice and persistently vote AGAINST them at the polls!!

JohnnyReb

January 23rd, 2012
8:01 am

I see some of Bookman’s limmings can’t wait for Jay to post an anti-Newt piece. No, Newt is not perfect but none of us are. Newt blasts the media becuase they deserve it. The Left and Republican establishment did not want Reagan. The good thing is, the Republicans who go to the polls will chose the nominee, not the Left, not the media. BTW, I get a big chuckle when I see a post where someone thinks Barry would out debate Newt. Talk about never seeing the sunshine. Don’t count Santorum out.

Aquagirl

January 23rd, 2012
8:02 am

Newt pulled a good one by deflecting criticism back at the institution most disliked in the auditorium.

The idiot moderator threw him a softball by asking “would you like to discuss your private life?” Nobody cares about Newt’s extramarital habits—-UNTIL he brings in the government after others (Bill Clinton, anyone gay.) The man publicly yammered about Clinton’s moral failing at the same time he was cheating on his own wife. That’s everyone’s business, not just Newt’s, and outside the teanut crowd he won’t get any cheers for acting the victim.

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:02 am

I’m Brian Williams and Gingrich deflects by attacking the media, I ask:

“Speaker Gingrich, if you were to become President, but found that the job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, would you ask America for an ‘Open Marriage’?”

Williams can pull that off with a straight face. Can Gingrich handle it properly?

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:05 am

BTW, I get a big chuckle when I see a post where someone thinks Barry would out debate Newt.

What you don’t get is that Gingrich turns into a little puppy dog when in the presence of real power. It’s easy to attack someone with lies when they’re not there to respond. Much harder if Obama starts off with something like “Newt, when you say ‘the fact of the matter is’ to preface a huge lie, it just makes all the other things you say hard to believe.” Then Gingrich spends the rest of the evening thinking about every word he says and it throws him off his game.

Jose

January 23rd, 2012
8:10 am

Newt talks the talk but fails to walk the walk. He cheated on wife #1 (his former HS math teacher then stricken with cancer) and on wife #2 (Calista at the time the affair started was a young congressional staffer…Clinton comparison anyone?). If he is willing to lie to those closest to him, at what point does he stop lying? He is morally bankrupt and therefore not fit to lead.

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:12 am

He is morally bankrupt and therefore not fit to lead.

And Republi-cons are leading the charge for bailouts for his morals.

k483

January 23rd, 2012
8:15 am

@ ByteMe & AquaGirl: So, you think King pitched Newt the question as he did so Newt could hit it out of the park? Or was King hoping the other panel members would pick up the fight? IMHO if that was what King was looking for that was a piece of tabloid journalism.

JohnnyReb

January 23rd, 2012
8:18 am

It’s amazing the number of people who post here and next door who have never sinned. What’s more amazaing is, the majority appear to be Progressives. Is this the same group who still worship at the feet of Bill? You know, the Bill that was POTUS and lied to America in a Nationally televised address. The one that thinks a BJ is not sex.

Jose

January 23rd, 2012
8:22 am

Johnny, I didn’t vote for Clinton or Obama. As for sinning and forgiveness, Newt sinned not once but over and over again and from what I saw last week in South Carolina, is unrepentant. He instead blamed the media rather than taking personal responsibility. So, while I may be willing to forgive him as a man, I do not feel compelled to vote to elect him the leader of the free world.

JohnnyReb

January 23rd, 2012
8:24 am

Jose, history is full of powerful leaders whose personal conduct does not stand up under the microscope.

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:30 am

So, you think King pitched Newt the question as he did so Newt could hit it out of the park? Or was King hoping the other panel members would pick up the fight?

I think King was leading with what had just come out in the news that day instead of focusing on the bigger picture. It was his own fault with the way he phrased the question and backed down from following up, but you can’t tell me that most everyone in the crowd wasn’t interested in the answer to the question that Gingrich didn’t actually answer.

Jose

January 23rd, 2012
8:32 am

Johnny, so what? That they were powerful leaders did not give them a free pass when it comes to lying and sinning. God holds us all to the same standard. Regardless of what you choose to do, Johnny, I am choosing to demand that the candidates who I decide to support be both qualified and meet a basic moral standard.

Aquagirl

January 23rd, 2012
8:33 am

IMHO if that was what King was looking for that was a piece of tabloid journalism.

I don’t think King knew what he was looking for, which makes him an idiot. The whole “open marriage” was really nothing new and a phrase ABC seized on for its salacious appearance. King was kind of stuck—-as a journalist, he couldn’t ignore the cheating elephant in the room, but his dim little brain had no way to connect it to anything meaningful. Thus he was stuck with ‘you want to talk about that?” CNN should fire him for shoddy work.

ABC should fire whoever emphasized the “open marriage” tagline for Marianne Gingrich’s interview. They’re the tabloid journalists.

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
8:35 am

lib bedwetters are running scared. The fact of the matter (IMO) is that this country is so sick of urkle and his cronies that whichever Republican gets the nomination they will win not on who they are but who they aren’t. barry and me-shell will be served eviction papers in November.

Proud Democrat

January 23rd, 2012
8:41 am

Hey Joe, my toilet is backed up from all the run on sentences in your post. Ever heard of a comma??

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:43 am

lib bedwetters are running scared. The fact of the matter

As I wrote earlier, Joe, when you say ‘the fact of the matter is’ to preface a huge lie, it just makes all the other things you say hard to believe

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
8:44 am

hey proud dimocrap, I charge extra if I see a urkle sticker on your car……

Road Scholar

January 23rd, 2012
8:45 am

Joe TP: Oh that insult really hurt the liberals! You must be an hourly employee since you have so much free time on your hands as a plumber!

JDW

January 23rd, 2012
8:50 am

@JohnnyReb…if Newt’s only problems were a couple of affairs maybe one could overlook them but tagging right along there are ethics concerns past and present. In the past he was censured, in the present he has been using campaign events as book selling events to make personal gain.

Another issue is the fact that he has been selling influence for the last 15 years and would have one believe that he is an outsider…HORSE HOOEY…I have been in corporate life for 20+ years some of that at the executive level and I couldn’t give you even a half baked reason that a company would pay millions for the services of a “corporate historian”.

Finally there is the little matter of how he left congress…just before the mob of his own with the tar and feathers.

When someone, be it Romney or Obama, decides to have full out war on Newt he is toast.

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
8:50 am

hey byteme, seriously bite me……couldn’t care less what you believe. As I stated it is my opinion, that this country is so sick of your little boy sitting at the big desk that whoever is nominated will win against this clown currently known as the pretender in chief. Guess it can’t be a fact or a lie until the morning of November 7th. Bless your heart, thanks for playing, now back to your crayon pile.

td

January 23rd, 2012
8:52 am

I have been hearing for months how much you libs really want Obama to face Newt in the general election. Now Newt wins one little primary and it appears you libs are so scared you are wetting you beds. It appears to this observer that you all have been telling some little white lies the past several months and are now scared to death that you might have to say President Newt!!!!

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:52 am

hey byteme, seriously bite me……couldn’t care less what you believe

Of course you care. You wouldn’t have responded if you didn’t. It really bugs you.

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:55 am

yes, td, we’re all sceeered of little Newtie. Hahahahahaha. Pathetic argument. Only people who should be scared are the Republicons.

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
8:56 am

ooh road, you be’s such a racist, pointing out likes you did that I couldn’t possibly have my own company becauses I visits the blogs, it must be because I’m black that I must have a bossman who what pays me by the hour and being a person of color I must be’s lazy and hiding from work so I’s don’t has to do nothin. Thank God we has a food stamp president cause as soon as my application be approved I can tell this white bossman I quit. What foolish people you libs are.

JohnnyReb

January 23rd, 2012
8:58 am

My preference is Santorum. Romney is a RINO. Newt, well, we all know his baggage. However, any of the three are better than keeping Obama for four more. If Newt is the nominee, I can vote for him without hesitation.

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
9:00 am

hey biteme, we’ll see what kind of bsong libs like you & keep, gotnolife, granny, aqua, little debbie and the rest are singing November 7th. I can see it now….It was Racism, It was voter fraud, It was intimidation. Sorry libs but it will be as urkles preacher likes to say….the chickens coming home to roost.

td

January 23rd, 2012
9:07 am

jconservative

January 23rd, 2012
7:34 am
“(note I did not say Gingrich had proven willing to fight for conservative principles,…”

That is because Gingrich has no conservative principles.

House Republicans did not fire Gingrich as Speaker because he was a crook, but because he sold out to the Clinton administration over tax policy. Gingrich is not, was not, and has never been a conservative, He is the perfect example of the term “RINO”.

The ACU (American conservative union) gives Newt a 90% lifetime voting rating. Rick receives a 86% and Ron Paul a 84%.

Yep, that sounds pretty RINO to me.

td

January 23rd, 2012
9:10 am

ByteMe

January 23rd, 2012
8:55 am
yes, td, we’re all sceeered of little Newtie. Hahahahahaha. Pathetic argument. Only people who should be scared are the Republicons

Then please explain to all of us mere mortals why all the vitriol? You libs should all be on hear cheering Newt on and putting down Romney? Looks like to this poor observer that you are going against your own self interest by the pure hate, unless that is, my original thought is true?

Mary Elizabeth

January 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

One must recall that one of the original versions of the U.S. Constitution would have freed the slaves, but South Carolinians, and two other Southern states, would not join the union if slaves were freed. The start of the Civil War occurred off the shores of South Carolina, the first state to join the Confederacy.Through the example set by South Carolina’s Senator Strom Thurman, conservative Dixiecrat Democrats changed to the conservative Republican label after the Civil Rights Bill was passed in the mid-1960s.

This has been the “big picture” thinking of South Carolinians for generations. South Carolina’s Republicans chose Newt Gingrich for their nominee for President of the United States. Gingrich has welcomed their endorsement. I hope, in the general election, Americans, including Georgians, will reject Gingrich’s narrow vision for America – if he, in fact, becomes the Republican nominee – and will choose, instead, President Obama’s more humanistic and far-reaching vision.

Bart Abel

January 23rd, 2012
9:13 am

Remember that word list that Gingrich distributed back in the 90s? Use negative words to define your opponents (anti, radical, destructive) and positive words to define yourself (pro, leadership, American)? He still uses it. Seriously. Print a copy and have it handy the next time you watch Gingrich speak.

The name of the cover memo was “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4443.htm

Got that? Mechanism of CONTROL!

I can’t believe that after all these years (after the focus group tested word list, after the government shutdown, after the ethics violations and penalties, after the adultery and corresponding hypocrisy, and more) people are still falling for his schtick.

Rafe Hollister

January 23rd, 2012
9:22 am

Mary Elizabeth

What you just said is that the election is a choice between those who want to stick with the Constitution that has brought us prosperity and an unequaled standard of living for 250 years and those who want to make up the rules as we go along or do what feels right at the time.

Road Scholar

January 23rd, 2012
9:27 am

Joe T P: Are you hearing voices? Where in my post did I mention race? Food stamps? Racism? They are your words and thoughts.

So you alledgedly own your own company (your words- I do not know you- and I’m glad at that). Congratulations! But where does that allow you to berate others? Because you’re the Boss? Because you can hide behind your keyboard? I pity your employees if they have to put up with your crap!

Business must be slow for you since you have time to blog! Otherwise you would be studying ways to expand your business or just taking care of business.. According to Gov Deal, we have a shortage of people in the trades…you would be the mentor form HELL!

Aquagirl

January 23rd, 2012
9:28 am

I can’t believe that after all these years……people are still falling for his schtick.

Some people don’t heed warnings about the Dark Side. Angry and fearful = easily controlled.

td

January 23rd, 2012
9:28 am

Bart Abel

January 23rd, 2012
9:13 am

Yes and if you want to read Obama’s playbook then just go read Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for radicals”. It makes Newts talking points look like a Sunday school picnic.

td

January 23rd, 2012
9:32 am

“Obama learned his lesson well. I am proud to see that my father’s model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday.” –Letter from L. DAVID ALINSKY, son Saul Alinsky

Joe The Plumber too.

January 23rd, 2012
9:41 am

road failure, just how often do you talk to your bedwetting buddies over on jays insult page about berating others…………………..? Expanding my business….business is fine little fellow. In fact I have no plans to add more employees until 2013. As far as my employees, they are pretty happy with some of the highest wages in town, benefits and savings programs. I believe anyone looking on the inside of my company would find some of the happiest employees of all the NAPHCC member companies around. Perhaps your time would be better spent trying to clean up the actions of your likeminded lib buddies. All is well over here, barrys time as pretender in chief is winding down.

DW

January 23rd, 2012
9:46 am

@TD

You are a total d0uche bag. Get over yourself