The campaign’s tone became much feistier this week, especially on the part of Gingrich. He flatly called Romney a “liar” and said, “Somebody who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president.” Gingrich is throwing the hardest punches at Romney by far and even refused to congratulate him on his victory in Iowa. He is refraining from attacking Santorum, even though he is his main competitor for the anti-Romney vote. Gingrich entertained the idea of an anti-Romney alliance on the Laura Ingraham Show. Rick Perry is the one going on the offensive against Santorum.
Gingrich and Paul are going at it hard. Paul called him a “chickenhawk” that “got deferments and didn’t even go” to Vietnam. Gingrich replied that the accusation has “the same amount of accuracy as the newsletters he said he never wrote.” He continued, “This is a man who says wild and outrageous things with no facts and later denies that he said them or wonders who wrote them because it couldn’t have been him.” Huntsman has also pounced on Paul, putting out an ad called “The Ron Paul Chronicles” styled after The Twilight Zone.
The real focus of Gingrich, Santorum and Perry is South Carolina. That primary is more up-in-the-air than New Hampshire and it has chosen the eventual Republican nominee every single time since 1980. If Romney wins the state, it would likely seal the nomination for him. If Santorum wins it, it would probably bring the race down to a two-man contest. If Gingrich or Perry win it, it is possible that the anti-Romney vote will be split in a three-man race.
The last poll out of South Carolina had Gingrich with a 12-point lead over Romney, 31-19. As mentioned before, Bachmann was in third with 8%, followed by Paul with 7%, Perry with 5% and Huntsman with 4%. However, this poll was published on December 18 and the race has changed dramatically since then. Santorum has surged, but will now be scrutinized as he hasn’t been since the campaign started.
This weekend’s debates on Saturday at 9 PM and Sunday at 9 AM are sure to bring fireworks. For Huntsman, it is now or never. For Gingrich and Perry, Santorum must be brought down. And Mitt Romney is everyone’s target.
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