A fierce debate caps a rollercoaster day in Republican race

In his opening question, King asked Gingrich whether he wanted to respond to allegations by an ex-wife that he had asked her for an "open marriage" that would allow him to continue an affair he was having with a staffer.
"I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," the former House speaker replied icily amid cheers from the audience at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Gingrich, describing the story as false, said he was "tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama" by attacking potential Republican opponents. That won a standing ovation — though it was hard to judge whether he had succeeded in defusing the issue among the Palmetto State's conservative voters.
The 17th televised Republican debate of the campaign had the fewest participants. Earlier in the day, Texas Gov. Rick Perry withdrew from the race and endorsed Gingrich, narrowing the field to four.
Gingrich demanded that Romney provide more information and defense of his tenure atBain Capital, the private equity firm he founded. The former House speaker said some of the firm's corporate takeovers had made it harder for companies to survive and cost some communities jobs, including two towns in South Carolina.
Romney accused Gingrich of adopting an attack he expected from Democrats. "I know we're going to get attacks from the left, from Obama, on capitalism," the former Massachusetts governor said. "My view is that capitalism works. Free enterprise works."
If and when Obama makes similar arguments, Romney vowed, "We're going to stuff it down his throat."
Meanwhile, Santorum accused Romney and Gingrich of "playing footsies with the left" by supporting health care proposals that included mandates requiring individuals to have insurance, a provision of the health care law Obama signed in 2010.
Santorum also disputed Gingrich's claim to far-reaching achievements as House speaker. "I served with him," Santorum said. "It was an idea a minute. No discipline. No ability to pull things together."
Gingrich replied that he had been a bold voice, then and now. "How big a scale of change do we want in Washington?" he demanded.
Romney then cited the exchange as "a perfect example of why we need to send to Washington someone who has not lived in Washington."
The group sparred over immigration, job creation, the consistency of their conservative positions and whether to release their income tax returns, an issue that has dogged Romney. Gingrich released his returns Thursday evening. Romney said he wouldn't follow suit until April, then drew scattered boos in the audience when he said he didn't know how many years of returns he would release.
"Every time we release things, drip by drip, the Democrats go out with another array of attacks," he said.
Several polls released Thursday showed Gingrich narrowing Romney's double-digit edge in the state after a strong performance in Monday's forum. An NBC News/Marist Poll showed Romney at 34%, ahead of Gingrich, by 10 percentage points, but his advantage had been cut in half by Tuesday, the last day of polling.
Paul was third and Santorum fourth.
If Gingrich won on Saturday, he would pierce the aura of inevitability the Romney camp has fostered. He could gain momentum and money to wage a campaign for the Jan. 31 Florida primary and the contests to follow.
A Romney win would reinforce a perception that he has emerged from the early contests — including South Carolina, where the political terrain doesn't favor him — to be the presumptive nominee.
A victory would move Romney "from the rough seas to calm waters," says Chip Felkel, a Republican strategist based in Greenville, S.C. He's not predicting what will happen Saturday, though. "It's very scrambled right now," Felkel said.

0 komentar:

Post a Comment