Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when there were six major Republican candidates leaving New Hampshire heading full-steam to South Carolina, despite a near-universal feeling of inevitability of a Mitt Romney nomination?
Fast forward to today, voting day in South Carolina. Suddenly there are only four candidates instead of six. By all recent measures, Romney (AKA “Cayman Islands Tax Shelter Lay’er Off’er Dude”) is collapsing, and the guy with all the momentum is Gingrich (AKA “The Vagina Whisperer”).
Don’t get me to explaining Republican primary voters in South Carolina. But if you look at the history of Republican presidential primaries in South Carolina, it is clear that the state is where Republican candidates’ hopes and dreams go to die.
It appears that revelations of Mitt Romney’s tax shelter scheme have stopped his momentum, which really doesn’t surprise me. It probably doesn’t surprise many Texans who remember the 1990 Governor’s race here, in which Republican Clayton Williams was in the lead a few days out from the election, when he suddenly admitted that he hadn’t paid any taxes recently. In a related story, odds are that unless you’re reading this in Texas, you’ve never heard of Clayton Williams, and there’s a reason for that: he lost the election. Bet you’ve heard of the woman who beat him: Ann Richards. Voters don’t like rich guys who don’t fork over their fair share.
More surprising is the likelihood that evangelical voters in South Carolina are simply shrugging off revelations that Gingrich apparently told his second ex-wife that he wanted an open marriage. This, according to his second ex-wife, who before she was his second ex-wife, was his second wife, and before that, she was his first home-wrecker. She was replaced by his second home-wrecker, who is now his third wife Callista, and who will in all likelihood someday be known as his third ex-wife, to be traded for a third home wrecker to be named later, perhaps as a first round draft pick of future Newt staffers. Take notes and keep up, this is confusing.
Explanations for conservative evangelicals not caring about this sordid soap opera? Beats me. Maybe more people than I thought have second ex-wife problems. Maybe they believe Rush Limbaugh when he says Newt is the real victim here. Maybe Mittens’ tax issue is so pervasive that voters don’t care what Newt’s ex-wife says. Maybe Republican primary voters are more worried about the Second Amendment than the Seventh Commandment.
The news could not be better for President Obama’s campaign. The longer this Republican clown car process is in question, the better off Obama’s reelection efforts look.
No matter the results tonight in South Carolina, I still think Tax Shelter Dude has the edge over The Vagina Whisperer. Up next in the batting order of primary states is Florida, which for the geopolitically impaired, is a really big expensive complicated state. Gingrich has, so far, been unencumbered with such trifles as raising money and building a campaign infrastructure, which is a lot easier to get away with in smaller states with inexpensive media markets. Mittens should arrive in Florida with an advantage, if campaign mechanics mean anything in the Republican clown car show.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul (AKA “Dr. Wackadoodle”) hasn’t really caught on in South Carolina (but might still come in ahead of “Santorum The Hapless”) and is skipping Florida and looking ahead to early February, to Nevada, Colorado, and Minnesota.
Get more popcorn. The show’s not over yet. And the longer it drags on, the better the nicknames will get.