January 11, 2012
WASHINGTON - The spotlight may be shining on New Hamsphire this weekend as the first Republican primary looms, but it's South Carolina that was causing the biggest stir on the campaign trail on Friday.
Two new polls suggested Mitt Romney had moved out in front of Newt Gingrich in the so-called Palmetto State, where Republican voters are far more socially conservative than those in New Hampshire and hold the South's first primary in two weeks.
The former Massachusetts governor was poised to coast to victory in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, but victory was less certain in South Carolina. Not only are social conservatives wary of Romney's record, but the evangelicals among them deeply distrusted his Mormon faith when he ran for president in 2008.
Just a few days ago, Gingrich was well ahead of Romney in South Carolina. No longer, suggests a Rasmussen Reports poll that had Romney at 27 per cent among the state's primary voters, followed by a surging Rick Santorum with 24 per cent and Gingrich at 18 per cent.
An American Research Group poll in the state, meantime, put Romney at 31 per cent, and Gingrich and Santorum at 24 per cent each. Since 1980, the winning candidate in South Carolina has gone on to win the party's nomination....
Gingrich may be injecting vim and vigour into the Republican race, but he's making a fool of himself in the process, said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"The problem is, he has this image of being the Pillsbury Doughboy on a rampage and that's not very threatening, nor is it very attractive," Jillson said.
Gingrich's latest blasts against Romney came a day after his campaign unveiled an attack ad of its own in New Hampshire and South Carolina, assailing Romney's proposals to jump-start the U.S. economy.
"Romney's economic plan? Timid," the ad reads. "Parts of it virtually identical to Obama's failed policy. Timid won't create jobs and timid certainly won't defeat Barack Obama."...