Georgia as Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney showdown site

Newt Gingrich supporters cheer in Columbia, S.C, after they learned that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had defeated his GOP rival Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Tim Dominick/The State/MCT

Newt Gingrich supporters cheer in Columbia, S.C, after they learned that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had defeated his GOP rival Mitt Romney in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary. Tim Dominick/The State/MCT

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you’ve prayed and pined for the 2012 race for president to come to Georgia, send a dozen roses to Juan Williams over at Fox News. Or John King at CNN.

They just made it happen.

Firing up South Carolina voters with explosive media-bashing performances in two nationally televised debates this week, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Saturday dashed Mitt Romney’s chances of putting a quick end to the race for the Republican nomination.

By doing so, the revived former U.S. House speaker has ensured that, in the next four weeks or so, TV sets in metro Atlanta and beyond will be saturated with the same calm, philosophic conversations that have graced living rooms in Iowa, New Hampshire, and – until 12 hours ago — this first-in-the-South primary state.

So batten down the hatches.

The Republican field still must survive a Jan. 31 primary in Florida, followed by a scattering of seven states from Michigan to Nevada to Washington. But, presuming that Gingrich and Rick Santorum perform well in Florida, the other contests are unlikely to have the gravitas to weed the field any further.

Which brings us to the 11-state, March 6 contest known as Super Tuesday. Texas, with its 155 delegates, has abandoned the date, making Georgia and its 76 delegates the largest prize of the evening. Virginia, by excluding all other candidates but Romney and Ron Paul from its Republican ballot, shrinks the contest even more.

If you are Newt Gingrich, you have spent the last year lobbying Georgia’s political leadership, from Gov. Nathan Deal down, to recognize your 20 years as a congressman from the state – a favorite son playing in his own sandbox. A televised debate is already in the works.

A spokesman for Deal says the governor is willing to do whatever Gingrich might demand of him. So far, that’s been limited to a single photo op with other state Capitol supporters.

“The Georgia campaign is getting well-organized,” said B.J. VanGundy, another GOP activist in South Carolina for Gingrich. The “getting” part of that statement might give some Newtsters heartburn. Since its inception, the Gingrich campaign has had the rhythm – catchy yet unpredictable — of a spontaneous jazz ensemble.

But if you are the methodical Mitt Romney, who marches to a John Philip Sousa beat, Georgia offers another opportunity. What better place than Gingrich’s symbolic home (he’s been a Virginia resident for the last decade) to put a stake through the heart of a rival who has resurrected himself more times than Bela Lugosi?

Under no circumstances is Romney willing to concede Georgia, said Eric Tanenblatt, the former Massachusetts governor’s top advocate in Georgia – as he headed toward South Carolina on Saturday.

“We’ve always planned for it to be a marathon,” Tanenblatt said. As polls showed Romney’s lead evaporating on Friday, his campaign issued yet another press release – this one touting the newly won support of state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler and 11 state legislators from Georgia. (Attorney General Sam Olens is already on board.)

It wasn’t advertised at the time, but during a November fundraising visit to Atlanta, Romney paid a state Capitol visit to the non-aligned House speaker, David Ralston, a spokesman for Ralston confirmed Saturday – adding that Gingrich has telephoned as well in the last few weeks.

Romney will be in Atlanta again on Feb. 8.

So what about the other presidential candidates? Ron Paul has let it be known that he will largely skip Florida in order to focus on Nevada and Minnesota. Georgia may be more hospitable to Paul than South Carolina, but only slightly so.

As for whether Santorum, the belated winner of the Iowa caucuses, has a future in Georgia – that brings us back to Gingrich and last week’s two extraordinary debates.

In the first, Williams of Fox News asked the former Georgia congressman why black people shouldn’t think themselves insulted by his comments about the roots of poverty. Gingrich’s dismissal brought him a standing ovation in Myrtle Beach.

The debate in Charleston opened with a question from CNN’s King: Would Gingrich like to respond to his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich’s allegation that he once sought an “open” marriage? Gingrich’s glowering reply brought Ovation No. 2 – 36 hours before South Carolina polls opened.

On Saturday, exit polls show that Gingrich won a majority of the evangelical vote in South Carolina on Saturday. But religious conservatives never had a chance to digest Marianne Gingrich’s accusations, said Tim Echols, chairman of the state Public Service Commission and Santorum’s top supporter in Georgia. Things might be different in Florida and beyond, he said.

“I believe he had a genuine conversion, and I believe he’s sincere,” Echols said. “Yes, we should forgive him. But that doesn’t mean that he’s the best candidate for president of the United States and that we should reward him.”

That said, short of a major backlash among church-goers, Echols said he would advise his candidate to bet on other, smaller states — if he survives until Super Tuesday. “If you’re Santorum and you have limited resources, I wouldn’t spend them in Georgia,” Echols said. “I would do the free ground game there, and I would take my money into other media markets.”

In other words, Georgia could become a two-man confrontation. Gingrich and Romney, mano a mano. You can already hear the chink! of spurs on Peachtree Street.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

200 comments Add your comment

honested

January 21st, 2012
8:45 pm

Spectacular….

This paves the way for the Obama Landslide.

So do paul and sanscrotum stay in?

td

January 21st, 2012
8:52 pm

Sounds like a good economic bust to the state.

td

January 21st, 2012
8:52 pm

Should be boost not bust.

honested

January 21st, 2012
8:53 pm

Bust, it was right the first time.

realist

January 21st, 2012
8:56 pm

In your dreams….”honested”.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

honested

January 21st, 2012
9:01 pm

Yep maybe Nut Getrich gets the nomination…

Then in November, he gets 125 electoral votes and about 30% of the popular vote.

There aren’t enough low IQ voters to put this miscreant into the White House.

[...] wins South Carolina primary Los Angeles Times Newt Gingrich wins South Carolina Republican…Source Tags: newt [...]

Frederick Douglass

January 21st, 2012
9:17 pm

Newt’s going to mess around and get nominated, if so, that’s an admission that the GOP has nothing. I love the way this is shaping up, Romney’s facade was tainted with the off shore investments revelation, and Newt was damaged goods coming in.

td

January 21st, 2012
9:17 pm

honested

January 21st, 2012
9:01 pm
Yep maybe Nut Getrich gets the nomination…

Then in November, he gets 125 electoral votes and about 30% of the popular vote.

There aren’t enough low IQ voters to put this miscreant into the White House.

How much have you been drinking tonight my friend? If you just add the delegates from the former confederate states the you are up to 162 and then you add the western states that have not voted for a Dem since JFK you are up to 233. That is the very minimum number a GOP nominee would receive. 45% popular vote would be the minimum any GOP nominee would receive.

Frederick Douglass

January 21st, 2012
9:21 pm

td it’s beginning to become abundantly clear…….you have nothing my friend!

honested

January 21st, 2012
9:25 pm

Adjust my prediction, 162 electoral votes.

The western states still have some sense of self respect.

deegee

January 21st, 2012
9:25 pm

I really hope the gasbag Newt wins the nomination. He can talk and talk about Ronald Reagan. If you are 21 years old and voting for the first time, you weren’t even alive when Ronald Reagan left office in 1989. If you are 35, you were 12 years old when Ronald Reagan left office. Nothing like captivating the electorate.

Karrie

January 21st, 2012
9:26 pm

Newt has a brain…The people that can think for themselves can see he is the only man capable of coming close to a serious debate with Obama voted properly. So what if he has a Shady past..Obama has a Shady Present! At least Newt won’t need a teleprompter to tell him what State he is in!!! Romney is a Robot! If Newt can take a shot at the ELITE MEDIA..I can’t wait to see him take the shots at Obama and his Billion dollar campaign..I guess the Rom na na na Romna bee uh huh Wall Street supporters love a guy with their microphone in his ear so they can tell him what to say! Too bad they invested their money on the WRONG guy! Woot Woot!

td

January 21st, 2012
9:33 pm

Newt “It is not that I am a good debater it is that I can articulate the deeply held values of the American people”

Amen, preach on brother Newt.

nelsonh

January 21st, 2012
9:34 pm

It sort of reminds of the Battle of Gettysburg. No one could have known it would end there. The North had far superior forces and it was the turning point of the Civil War.
Georgia could very well be the turning point in the war for the GOP nomination.
The North fields the consumate man, loyal to his family, proven in business and in high political office. The south does not have the population to make a difference when it comes to a national election. Florida can hardly be considered south, it is 90% northerners. Somethings do not change. The wealthy, industralized north wins and will always win.

Frederick Douglass

January 21st, 2012
9:53 pm

The Civil War’s been over for nigh on 150 years nelsonh, and lest we forget, for all practical purposes, Newt’s essentially a northerner himself, speaks their language and everything.

Off de Plantation

January 21st, 2012
10:13 pm

OBOZO vs. Newt in debates! Newt did allow that he’d let OBOZO have a teleprompter as he (Newt) knows that OBOZO can’t fart straight without one.
Growing up in south Georgia we were taught that the more people bad mouth you without facts (as you airheads are doing here with Newt) the more they (bad-mouthers) are afraid of you. Stand by, Socialists…Newt was declared dead twice and arose twice to be where h is now. Go ahead and cast you vote for OBOZO – he the creater of jobs – in government, that is. At least Newt will open up the vast proven oil reserves in the US and its territory, along with putting the pipeline in from Alberta. OH, I forgot:
OBOZO is going to make contraceptives free and force health care providers (not OBOZOCare yet) as well as continuing to press hard for murdering unborn children who have not had a say in that matter yet. Yeah, go OBOZO!

honested

January 21st, 2012
10:16 pm

Frederick…..

Don’t confuse the foaming dixiecrats with facts!

They still think they are in charge.

These a sickness in Ga

January 21st, 2012
10:17 pm

@nelsonh Obama is from the Pacific…or the Midwest if you want to say he is from Chi-town, Bush was from the South or whatever you consider Tx to be, Clinton was from the South (I consider Ar South, but realize that is open to some debate, Bush was from Ct…so that’s one northerner, Ray-Gun was from the West, Carter from the South, Ford from Midwest (Mi), Nixon West, LBJ South, JFK North…so two northerns, two midwesterns, two westerners and four southerners. I’d say your analysis is a bit off on who generally fairs better in elections.

honested

January 21st, 2012
10:17 pm

off de….

Have you been watching the economic numbers?

The party of no has done everything they can to prolong the ’shrub depression’….

With that exhausted and normal activity returning to Congress next week, America will see that they’ve got nothing to offer.

Obama 2012!

There is a sickness in GA

January 21st, 2012
10:26 pm

@Off de Fact: The Obama Executive Branch is smaller than Reagan’s was. Look it up: http://www.opm.gov/feddata/HistoricalTables/TotalGovernmentSince1962.asp

No Incumbents Elected

January 21st, 2012
10:26 pm

honested

January 21st, 2012
9:01 pm

there were certainly enough to put Obama in office.

GT4EVER

January 21st, 2012
10:27 pm

Rednecks are a dying breed….the old south is gone forever.15 years from now when most of the baby boomers have passed on.. the political dynamics in this country are going to be much different than it was in the 90’s.Scary thought

honested

January 21st, 2012
10:30 pm

n.e.i…..

No, those voters were intellectuals, they will be voting again.

The president won’t be starting any new wars and newtsie can’t, therefore, he can see the electorate he has to depend upon which is not nearly enough to put him in office.

kreedham

January 21st, 2012
10:30 pm

I’m excited to be able to vote in the Republican primary for the candidate who needs help to keep running. I want this to go on as long as possible.

Centrist

January 21st, 2012
10:32 pm

The media blunder and Gingrich’s successful counter attack this week won him South Carolina. It certainly made him look better in my eyes as anyone who has followed my similar complaint about the left wing bias of the MSM and this blog itself.

Whether that theme will continue to work for him in Florida will be interesting to watch. For this blog to state that Georgia (Gingrich’s home state) is going to be more important than Ohio – a battleground state voting on the same day is preposterous.

No Incumbents Elected

January 21st, 2012
10:33 pm

honested

January 21st, 2012
10:17 pm

Why did Obama not fix it all the first two years when you liberals had total control. You are always looking to blame someone else for your lack of performance.

Look before I leap...

January 21st, 2012
10:42 pm

@ These a sickness in GA

Though your analysis is generally correct, there are some factual errors:
#41 was born in MA, not CT and moved to TX in the late 40’s.
Ford was never elected on a national ticket, so to include him makes little sense.

VA has the highest number of Presidents, followed by OH, then NY and MA (tied) then VT, NC and TX (tied).

kreedham

January 21st, 2012
10:42 pm

Sorry…Georgia is not Newt’s home state. I believe he grew up in Pennsylvania, got a job in Georgia and did live here while at West Georgia and in congress but has been a Virginia resident (but not on the ballot) for several years.

GT4EVER

January 21st, 2012
10:43 pm

NIE you are one of the ones who will be wondering what the hell happened and how did it happen so quickly.Better open your eyes dude.

There is a sickness in GA

January 21st, 2012
10:44 pm

I’m happy for Republican voters. They will now have a chance to vote in a meaningful election. Hopefully they will dispatch this responsibility wisely.

There is a sickness in GA

January 21st, 2012
10:49 pm

@Look. My apologies on 41, I had it in my mind he was from Ct for some reason. Still, having lived in Tx so long he could well be considered a southerner as well.

[...] Gingrich wins big, Georgia to play big role in nomination [...]

Look before I leap...

January 21st, 2012
10:52 pm

@ There…
I stand corrected. I did not see both Bush references. Bush II (#43) was born in CT.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

double

January 21st, 2012
11:09 pm

Be glad when I can vote for Newt.

Centrist

January 21st, 2012
11:19 pm

kreedham posted “Georgia is not Newt’s home state. I believe he grew up in Pennsylvania, got a job in Georgia and did live here while at West Georgia and in congress but has been a Virginia resident (but not on the ballot) for several years.”

Silly not to acknowledge his political career representing Georgia (and being Speaker of the U.S. House) with a large base which makes him a favorite son as posted above by Mr. Jim Galloway:

“If you are Newt Gingrich, you have spent the last year lobbying Georgia’s political leadership, from Gov. Nathan Deal down, to recognize your 20 years as a congressman from the state – a favorite son playing in his own sandbox.

A spokesman for Deal says the governor is willing to do whatever Gingrich might demand of him.”

honested

January 21st, 2012
11:22 pm

Everyone, babble on about newts,…today is the last day of ‘victory’ in his tawdry history.

honested

January 21st, 2012
11:23 pm

Centrist.

“the governor is willing to do whatever gingrich might demand of him”

Does that include holding something until the swelling goes down?

mehlman rings twice

January 21st, 2012
11:28 pm

The trend so far is that Republican voters are not getting fired up about any candidate in any state. Today’s voters make of roughly 54% of all Republican voters in the 2008 election and the winner won 40% of those. Many in SC may have voted for Newt this time because they are rabidly mad at President Obama but they will find out that he has more in common with the South Carolina elite, like former playboy globe-trotting Gov. Mark Sanford and former playboy GOP chairman Bev Smith (Susan Smith’s stepfather). I plan on doing like Kreedham @ 10:30 pm just so I can keep this going as long as I can.

double

January 21st, 2012
11:33 pm

Td calls newt. brother Deal must be his brother too.ED you must be talking about Newts head, afer todays win.

Frederick Douglass

January 21st, 2012
11:43 pm

Required reading for Mitt Romney should include, “How the Gingrich stole Carolina”.

double

January 21st, 2012
11:46 pm

Obama so well loved in Ga. Summons for him to appear.

None of the above

January 21st, 2012
11:53 pm

Why do people want someone who can debate Obama? Newt is just like him, a rich, privaleged ex-college professor, who never had a real job, who thiks he know what’s best for poor people.

td

January 22nd, 2012
12:03 am

Yes, I admit I’m an idiot for mentioning confederate states. Sorry.

td

January 22nd, 2012
12:04 am

mehlman rings twice

January 21st, 2012
11:28 pm

You seem to forget that no matter how the Republicans vote in the primary there is one over glaring reason that will unite them in the general election and the exit poll results prove it. The number one reason for your vote for X candidate= CAN BEAT OBAMA IN THE GENERAL ELECTION.

Frederick Douglass

January 22nd, 2012
12:06 am

None of the above @ 11:53

Lincoln was the last poor man that’s been elected president, and even at that, his wife had money. I hope you aren’t holding out for Mitt Romney knowing what’s best for poor people, not “Mr. I’ll bet you $10,000.00″.

MrLiberty

January 22nd, 2012
12:23 am

South Carolina republicans claim to be strongly evangelical Christians and yet they responded with boos when presented the Golden Rule of Christ as a model for foreign relations, and voted heavily for a serial adulterer. Sounds like those evangelicals better be praying for forgiveness this Sunday morning. They have a lot to be ashamed of after yesterday’s rejection of the only true conservative in the race.