The Right's Quixotic Quandary

With the South Carolina primary eight days away, and Rick Perry having morphed into the Incredible Shrinking Candidate, conservative Republicans are down to two options in their quixotic quest for a non-Romney. The only problem: One has already displayed more political personalities than Sybil, and the other specializes in social issues that nobody especially cares about in 2012. Newt Gingrich can of course be both vicious and charming, potentially a winning combo for a Romney foe—but he can’t seem to decide whether to bash Mitt over Bain Capital or return to his pre-New Hampshire incarnation as the happy warrior of clean campaigning. Rick Santorum, meanwhile, has a promising anti-Mitt idea—appealing to blue-collar workers by promising to bring back manufacturing jobs—but he can’t seem to stop comparing gay marriage to polygamy, contraception to wantonness, and the Obama presidency to the Apocalypse. The polls show Gingrich and Santorum splitting the non-Romney vote in South Carolina with Ron Paul, who looks ever more likely to be the last challenger standing. But with Romney’s numbers ranging from 23 percent to 28 percent, there’s a lot of votes to split. And with a Myrtle Beach Tea Party convention this weekend, and two debates next week, there’s still a chance for one of the knights-errant of the right to overtake Romney on the 21st and send conventional wisdom into a tizzy. And hey, in case you hadn’t already heard it 120,000 times on cable news, this is the state that’s picked every Republican nominee since 1980. 


So They Say


“You have a very important role to play, a huge role to play. If South Carolina gets it wrong, this country may be stuck with four more years of Barack Obama. … We will be the generation that will have to explain to your children and grandchildren as to what you did, the opportunity you missed … that you let America down.”
Rick Santorum, campaigning in South Carolina 

Daily Meme: Republicans & Non-Humans




What We're Writing


  • In South Carolina, Jamelle Bouie reports on Santorum’s dire warnings. 
  • John Sides studies Romney’s nagging problem: Americans think he’s the rich person’s candidate.  


What We're Reading


  • Comedy Central: Stephen Colbert announces his “possible candidacy for president of the United States of America of South Carolina.” 
  • The Nation: Gary Younge dissects the GOP’s blatant racism. 
  • New York Times Magazine: Matt Bai reports on the Tea Party at war. 
  • Washington Post: Charles Krauthaumer praises Paul’s achievement. 
  • Weekly Standard: Congressman Allen West tells critics of the urinating Marines to “shut your mouth, war is hell.” 
  • Daily Intel: Q&A with Paul’s giant. 



Poll of the Day


In South Carolina, Rasmussen finds Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum splitting the non-Romney vote, giving the former Massachusetts governor a seven-point lead.