Tired of the generalities, platitudes, conflicting messages and general whirling poo-storm coming with the S.C. Republican presidential primary? As another slicker, sicker and definitely richer Southern “Bubba” once said, “I feel your pain.” With the “Bubba Guide” to the S.C. Presidential Primary, you’ll get a quick snapshot of the candidates that’s no less confusing, and maybe a little more educational, than what’s spewing forth from your television ad nauseum. I have made my level-best to form conclusions, opinions and analysis dispassionately and without the agendas most folks are sportin’ ’round with these days.
As the 2012 Republican presidential nomination race left the hamlets of New Hampshire and headed to South Carolina, the race wasn’t decided, but all signs point in that direction. Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney became the first non-incumbent Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire, which is an important fact. In the post-Goldwater era, GOP voters tend to consolidate quickly and behind the establishment candidate. Since 1980, if New Hampshire boosted a rabble-rouser like, say, um… Pat Buchanan in 1996, the Palmetto State would be there to produce a win for the stable, predictable oatmeal-flavored Bob Dole — slamming the door on those who would challenge the powers-that-be. (Yea, I voted for him). As of today, THE EVE OF THE FINAL CHARLESTON DEBATE, Newt Gingrich is clearly clawing his way to the top in South Carolina. As folks drop out, drop bombs and drop trou’, will history reflect that Mitt Romney was nothing more than a Pat Buchannan “rabble -rouser” if South Carolina produces a solid “W” for the NEWTSTER?
It doesn’t always hold, but it’s a good general rule that Iowa goes for the social conservative, New Hampshire picks the anti-establishment candidate and South Carolina crowns the winner. Well let’s see… Iowa was a win for Santorum, albeit only by a mere 38 votes. New Hampshire was a decisive Romney win. Before the Myrtle Beach debate, it was expected that Romney would walk away with the win. Then Newt start kicking natural ass, getting standing O’s in MID DEBATE, and the bottom-dwellers started folding up like cheap hookers. Looks like the tide is turning. To be sure, nothing’s certain until the ballots are counted. And with our proud Palmetto State, this guy has learned to expect the unexpected. After, they don’t call us “Texas on STERIODS” fer nuttin”!
The following listing of the candidates is in order of their average number from the last four polls conducted in South Carolina, according to Pollster. That’s Insider Advantage (Jan. 11), ARG (Jan. 11-12), Rasmussen (Jan. 12) and PPP (Jan. 11-13). Again, as of this HOUR, Gingrich and Romney are in a DEAD HEAT! Hope this Bubba-Guide helps, informs, or–at a minimum–entertains.
27.25 percent | Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney (The Front-Runner*)
Romney would win in South Carolina by not losing, and a third victory had been expected to effectively put an end to the viability of the challengers. Between his campaigns against late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, for Massachusetts governor and for president last time ’round, it’s genuinely hard to pin down where Willard stands on the issues. [Remember those GIANT John Kerry flip-flop costumes at the '04 GOP Convention ? What is it with these wishy-washy Bay-Staters?!?] Anyhoo, when assessing the efforts together, a picture emerges that shows a man of industry who is old-line conservative on economics and foreign policy, while liberal on social issues.
Whether he would govern with his personal beliefs is anyone’s guess, because Romney’s been willing to say just about whatever it takes to win the Republican nomination for president. Now before you go all Bubba- hatin’ on me, that’s not intended as an attack or slight to the former governor, not like his opponents would say it. Here, facts are simply facts, and I can’t ignore them just because they present an inconvenient narrative. MMMMMkay?!?
What motivates Romney so to become the president, and saying things he doesn’t 100 percent believe, only he knows. His naked desire for the presidency has turned off a lot of voters, but when they looked at the rest of the GOP field, our man Mitt stood confident, competent and experienced: The best of a bad crop, so to say. If the Mittster becomes the nominee, he should solidify into a more consistent candidate in message, merging a more-authentic public and private viewpoint. By the way …can ANYONE enlighten me as to why his family expatriated to Mexico two generations ago? Inquiring minds wanna know!
*Editor’s note: “Front Runner” status chosen PRIOR to Romney’s calling Bigfoot a “Hoax” in Myrtle Beach South Carolina Debate on 1/16/12
22.75 percent | Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (The Bully)
Newt was a man of his times. He took advantage of conditions in the political arena and the general society to seize power for him and his allies in the House in 1994. In doing so, he became a MAJOR– if not the PRINCIPAL–creator of the present aggressively vicious atmosphere in politics. In so doing, he nearly salted the earth of any presidential ambitions. Slate‘s John Dickerson, on Dec. 12, called him, “America’s Greatest Attack Politician.”
Four days earlier, Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg directly addressed Gingrich’s grandiose view of himself and came away asking if the former speaker suffered from an undiagnosed mental disorder — manic-depression or hypermania, or another malady. Whatever the situation may be, Gingrich continually becomes like the character of Richard III, turning away with his nasty persona those who were attracted by his ideas, almost excited to be the “bad guy” again. Personally, I’ll never recover from Howard Crabtree’s depiction of the guy in his hilarious Off-Broadway Show “When Pigs Fly”, where, in 1996 on Thanksgiving Night, I sat wide-eyed and amazed on the front row of a New York Theatre as some Drag Queen belted,
“Newt, you are so cute….You Speaker of that House of Ill-repute!
You look so ‘Newtonian’ in your Statesman Drag…like Eight pounds of Boloney in a Three pound bag….”
but I digress…
Before the Myrtle Beach Debate, I did not believe that there could be a lasting victory in playing the villain, the man in black. It’s a supporting role, and our pal Newt seemed to realize that. It was pissing him off, which wasn’t helping matters any. But this week in South Carolina, he has channeled that anger into a spectacular debate performance, coupled with a pinpoint perfect “call-out” of Mitt on his tax[NON]disclosure and as of Thursday night, he’s TIED UP with Romney! At tonight’s debate, Newt had a singular goal after today’s garbage- dump by wife#2… NEUTRALIZE THE EX-FACTOR. Ladies and gents on that note I feel it’s safe to quote W here when I declare, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Watching the post game tonite, it’s almost comical to watch the usually smug CNN Commentator JOHN KING trying to resuscitate himself after Newt effectively “burned him a new one” when he opened the debate with a question about “open relationships.”
On the issues, Gingrich is fairly reliable mainstream conservative. He wasn’t averse to bringing home the federal bacon when he was in the House, or in general doing what’s best for Newt, himself. It’s a fair statement to say Newt’s about Newt first and foremost, and everything else falls in behind that. Some people genuinely believe that makes for a reliable, predictable and dependable public official. Maybe so, maybe not. Without a South Carolina win, Gingrich would most likely go back to where he’s most comfortable, in the academic world of history and big public policy ideas. I, for one, would regret that because despite all these not-so-nice factoids that cannot be ignored, he is clearly the smartest guy running for President from any party. [and that's coming from a guy who drove 'round with an "Elitists for Obama" bumper sticker last time around!]
16.00 percent | U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (The Crazy Old Man)
The Republican Party owes a great debt to Ron Paul and his supporters. Paul’s non-interventionist, anti-war, bring-’em-home defense stance has generated an honest-to-God debate over foreign policy within the Republican Party, which is impressive. The national parties have their messages on such lock-down that discussion, dissent and disagreement are swept out the door. Genuine intraparty policy debates create energy and dynamism within the party, which usually leads to good candidates and victorious elections. Can I get an “‘ATTABOY!!!” for the Ronster?
Take the Democratic Leadership Council, for example, which revitalized a moribund and fractured party to put Bill Clinton in the White House twice while creating a worldwide movement in center-left politics: The Third Way. Paul’s discussions about the Federal Reserve, monetary policy, foreign aid and the nature of federalism itself are also things to be welcomed. If I may beg your indulgence for a moment, during my tenure as a House Rep. In S.C. and since that time, I consider CONSISTENCY to be the “self-actualization” of the politico. That being said, I LOVE Ron Paul for actually saying the same thing consistently throughout his career. Of anyone who has run for President in my lifetime, I sincerely believe he is the most truthful, focused and consistent in what he stands for. And he’s going to get my vote Saturday for it! Sadly, I fear Paul’s too old, and he’s been hanging out on the fringe too long to assume the aura of a mainstream GOP nominee for president.
12.75 percent | Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (Li’l Duce)
With all due respect to my Roman Catholic Brother in Faith, this Pittsburgh-bred senator sealed his political fate in the ’90s when he used the slippery slope fallacy to suggest legalized bestiality could result from gay rights legislation. [I know... right?!?] Cubbyholed into big-government social conservatism, he rolled over a weak Democratic opponent by six points through reaping the benefits of his national popularity while mitigating its negative aspects. Booyah!
By 2006, the cat was out of the bag and Pennsylvania voters weren’t going to approve a guy who was opposed to contraception, quoted as saying the birth-control pill is, “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” [I know... right?!?] While that might have flown in the blue-collar eastern suburbs of the Steel City, pro-life Democrat Bob Casey trounced Santorum statewide by 17 points. Booyah!
Whilst I don’t wanna go here, I feel pressed to point out that I do not believe that the former senator is trying to legislate Catholicism or Christianity, though he acts in a way that substitutes Biblical teachings for most universal truths, putting a heavy ecumenical hand on the Enlightenment philosophy of the Founders. Rick Santorum believes the government should guide the morality of society all the way from the sidewalk to the bedroom. And the congregation said…
A working-class kid, Santorum sticks to his roots on economics and is easily the most union-friendly candidate in the bunch. Also, from the U2 frontman Bono, “While in Congress, Santorum supported efforts to fight global AIDS, provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries, combat genocide in Sudan, and offer third world debt relief. He also supported home-ownership tax credits, offering savings accounts to children from and rewarding savings by low-income families, funding autism research, fighting tuberculosis, and providing housing for people with AIDS. He supported increased funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children’s Aid Society, and financing community health centers.”
That class-consciousness leads Santorum to choose fiscal over social policy when the two are in conflict, as he did endorsing former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter in his last run for office. Seemingly out of place, this campaign and its supporters are the heirs of the presidency movement for former Ala. Gov. George Wallace. Conservative, big government, pro-labor, pro-business, religious and patriotic. Not to mention White and just a little xenophobic. “Us vs. Them.” And, like Wallace, there’s a whiff of corruption and nefarious dealings. Pope Benedict doesn’t have to go all ex cathadra to convince this fish-eater that President Santorum just ain’t happenin’, folks.
6.50 percent | Texas Gov. Rick Perry (The Cowboy)
Earlier today, Rick Perry withdrew from the Presidential race and endorsed Newt Gingrich. But not to worry: Rick Perry was nothing you have not seen before. As a matter of fact, former Ole Miss and Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt did the tent revival minister schtick better than Perry himself. And with Houston, you could trade stories about football, whereas with Perry it was the luck of the draw. This gentleman likely chose to run for president as he would accepting a challenge in the back 40. From a distance, Perry appeared to be treating the campaign like a fraternity event. But this kegger never really got off the ground. While there didn’t seem to be a real catalyst for his effort, Perry had never lost an election until the 2012 Iowa caucuses, doubled up by the New Hampshire primary. That one-two punch had the Texas governor dazed and reeling as he tried to adapt?In the end, Perry did not have a hook with any of his issues, either, pulling back from criticism of Romney’s hostile takeovers at Bain Capital. I know a lot of my Southern Politicos wanted to hear more about Big Tex , but I had looked and looked, and it just was not there. NOW THAT PERRY IS OUT, us Sandlappers should probably hand the Dude a Lil’ Joe BBQ sandwich from Maurice Bessinger’s and a six pack of Blenheim Ginger Ale and thank him for his time.
4.50 percent | Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (The Paradox)
Of the Republican field, it seemed only fitting that the candidate who represented the best chance for the GOP to win the presidency was bringing up the caboose in South Carolina. He was everything Obama was and more, except ethnic (Does Mormon count?) Huntsman was a good-looking, likable guy who had a good track record as governor of a Western state and a metric ton of family wealth standing on the sidelines, had it been needed. Huntsman was moderate, agreeable, and just about every quality that would have gotten him kicked out of the next S.C. Club for Growth powwow. So what happened? He DROPPED OUT before the Myrtle Beach Presidential Debate , then threw his support to his fellow Mormon comrade Mitt Romney! The good news is that he’s only 51 years old and will be able to come back ’round in 2016 (or 2020!) should the opportunity arise. I think he is a fascinating guy and I am very grateful to his GA-zillionnaire father’s SUPERPAC for keeping him in the game long enough to run around with the Big Dawgs in the Palmetto State alongside the rest of the pack!(Through this past week, anyways!)
I know this blog has been a bit of a WHOPPER, but the South Carolina Presidential Primary is a HUGE DEAL! I am quite sincere when I say we need to all thank the South Carolina Republican Party for keeping it the “First in the South”. Yo Flori-DUH : Can you say “Booyah“?!? Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Independent like me, you’d be hard-pressed not to say “It’s a GREAT WEEK IN SOUTH CAROLINA!” Hope the Bubba Guide helped.
by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., an Attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He received his BA in 1985 from Clemson University and his JD in 1988 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.