Rick Rolls, Newt Rockets

Had everything gone according to expectations, Saturday’s South Carolina primary would have been the first in a series of showdowns between the surefire Iowa caucus winner, Rick Perry, and the inevitable New Hampshire primary victor, Mitt Romney. But if a presidential candidate has ever failed more spectacularly than Perry to live up to his hype, it’s hard to recall one. The Texas governor’s withdrawal from the race this morning, and his endorsement of “visionary” Newt Gingrich—who is making a run at Romney, and leading in three new South Carolina polls—was belated, but also timely. With Sarah Palin edging closer to endorsing the former house speaker, and Rick Santorum’s Iowa momentum stalled, Gingrich appears positioned—especially if he wins on Saturday—to become the “non-Romney” conservative going forward. But first, he’ll need another rabble-rousing debate performance tonight in Charleston. And then he’ll have to cook up a savvy response to his second wife’s ABC News interview, which airs on Monday but has already been leaking poison.

 

So They Say

"Governor Perry. Terrific guy. Terrific conservative. Been a great governor. Been great in the race. We're gonna miss him on the stage.”

Romney reacting to Perry’s withdrawal

 

Daily Meme: Dewey Defeats Santorum

 

  • The revised Iowa results are a blow to Romney…
  • …who called Santorum to congratulate him…
  • …after Romney’s campaign downplayed the new result as “a virtual tie.”
  • The mangled results revive “America’s ravening mob of Iowa-bashers.”
  • But will it boost Santorum’s chances?

 

What We're Writing

 

  • Abby Rapoport recounts the history of recalls.
  • Patrick Caldwell writes that Romney’s Republican opponents are giving the Obama campaign an assist.

 

What We're Reading

 

  • Adios mofo: Paul Begala says Perry’s campaign should be remembered for appealing to “the darkest angels of our nature.”
  • At an anti-abortion forum in South Carolina, Santorum is ambushed by Ron Paulers.
  • In The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger contends that Romney should be proud of his Bain Capital career—it helped save America, after all!
  • Jimmy Carter condemns Gingrich’s racial rhetoric.
  • Romney loses it on a South Carolina rope line.

 

Poll of the Day

Independents are anything but happy with President Obama, a New York Times/CBS News poll finds. At the same time, Republicans are equally cranky about their presidential choices.

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