MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Less than a week after releasing a poll showing Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in a statistical deadheat in South Carolina, a survey released by Atlanta-based InsiderAdvantage has Romney pulling away. From NewsMax.com:
In the poll of 720 likely registered voters in South Carolina GOP primary, Romney was leading with 32 percent of the vote. Gingrich was second with 21 percent, followed by Ron Paul with 14 percent.
Romney showed the most movement in the poll, while Gingrich remained static. The rest: Ron Paul, 14 percent; Rick Santorum, 13 percent; Jon Huntsman, who will withdraw from the race today, 6 percent; and Rick Perry, 5 percent.
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney has let it be known that he won’t be on hand for Jon Huntsman’s withdrawal here in Myrtle Beach. Newt Gingrich insists Huntsman withdrawal will help him. “With Governor Huntsman dropping out, we are one step closer to a bold Reagan conservative winning the GOP nomination,” a Gingrich spokesman declared this morning.
Rick Santorum insisted Huntsman was – and is – irrelevant. “Moderates are endorsing moderates,” he said in Columbia, S.C., today.
Late last night, after news broke of Jon Huntsman’s withdrawal and endorsement of Mitt Romney, a lot of house-cleaning was in order. From the New York Times:
Mr. Huntsman’s campaign, which struggled to raise money for expensive television ads, put many of his harshest attacks against Mr. Romney into clever and biting online videos that he posted to his campaign’s Web site and a corresponding YouTube channel.
Those videos (and a few television commercials) are now mostly gone, quickly yanked from public view as Mr. Huntsman prepares for an 11 a.m. endorsement of Mr. Romney.
There are varying reports that he is listing toward Mitt Romney, but U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint – South Carolina’s tea party champion – sent out an e-mail last night declaring he won’t endorse before Saturday’s presidential primary vote. DeMint gave the opening remarks at a tea party convention in Myrtle Beach. From the local newspaper:
He urged conservatives to unite as a party, and not to “nip at the heels of someone who’s voting record isn’t perfect.”
At the Cathedral of Praise in North Charleston, Gingrich spoke to a congregation of about 1,000 about his three marriages, a record that many voters cite as a reason they won’t vote for the former House speaker.
“I don’t come here today as a perfect person,” he said. “I don’t come here today without, I guess the advertisement is, baggage.”
He won admiring words – though not an endorsement – from church pastor Michael Lewis.
“Whoever you vote for I think you would have to attest that there’s a man who loves his country and who knows his country, and regardless who you vote for, he’s one of us,” Lewis said in his closing remarks.
While we’re on the topic of religion, the Associated Press has a piece today on whether a continuing debate over Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith will have an impact in the South Carolina primary. A few paragraphs:
In the upstate city of Easley, the Rev. Brad Atkins, president of the South Carolina General Baptist Convention, has posted an email exchange on his church website with a local reporter on his objections to the LDS church.
“Romney’s Mormonism will be more a cause of concern than Gingrich’s infidelity,” Atkins wrote. Christians can forgive sin, the pastor said, “but will struggle to understand how anyone could be a Mormon and call themselves a Christian.”
Then there was this:
Bob Jones III, chancellor of the fundamentalist Christian school Bob Jones University in Greenville, stunned many when he endorsed Romney in the 2008 primary.
Fundamentalists generally steer clear of anyone with even the most minor difference over Scripture. But Jones said the country elects a president not a preacher. This past week, Jones said through a spokeswoman that he hasn’t endorsed anyone so far in the 2012 primary.
The New York Times has a look today at Rick Santorum’s U.S. Senate record:
[A]n examination of Mr. Santorum’s earmark record sheds light on another aspect of his political personality, one that is at odds with the reformer image he has tried to convey on the trail: his prowess as a Washington insider.
A review of some of his earmarks, viewed alongside his political donations, suggests that the river of federal money Mr. Santorum helped direct to Pennsylvania paid off handsomely in the form of campaign cash.
This morning, Rick Santorum is pushing back against a TV attack ad being broadcast by a Super PAC allied with Mitt Romney. From MSNBC:
The presidential hopeful said today that the Restore Our Future ad — which claims Santorum voted to allow convicted felons vote — is dishonest. “Now Gov. Romney has taken that and said Rick Santorum is for felons voting, and that is a lie,” he told a crowd of nearly 150 people packed into Percy & Willie’s restaurant. “And by the way, I think there is only two states that don’t allow that. And so to go out and mislead the people of South Carolina as to what our record is on this, is just yuck.”
Instead, Santorum said he supported a measure that would allow felons who have successfully completed parole to apply to have their voting rights restored.
South Carolina has a nearly identical law, Santorum noted.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider