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At the beginning of the week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had two primary wins and appeared headed for an easy victory in conservative South Carolina.
By week’s end, he was down to just one primary win and heads for Florida 1 and 2.
On one hand, Newt Gingrich happened. The bombastic former Speaker of the House turned adversity into advantage in two contentious South Carolina debates.
In the first, he turned a question about racism from Fox News’ Juan Williams into an applause line that plays well in the heart of the Confederacy. In the second, he turned a question from CNN Moderator John King about his infidelity into a standing ovation by attacking the media for having the gall to question his character.
“Carefully-worded racism plays well in South Carolina,” longtime state political watcher Joe Vance told Capitol Hill Blue Saturday. “What’s more surprising is how voters can look the other way on Newt’s history of infidelity.”
On the other, Romney sank himself with waffling answers on his refusal to release income tax returns, leaving the clear impression that he has something to hide.
While a majority of Republican voters claim they prefer Romney at the top of the GOP ticket in November, they really aren’t that comfortable with him. With the rabid right rising once again within the GOP, Romney is in trouble.
Conventional political wisdom says Romney has the money and the campaign organization to eventually win the nomination but this campaign season is anything but conventional.