suggesting that he expects to be going up against Gingles right up to the convention.
The Romney campaign does seem to be weirded out by the turnaround from Mr. Inevitable to Mr. Collapsing in a single week. In a post he titles "Romney Campaign Curling Up in a Ball on the Floor," Jonathan Chiat responds to the rumor Friday that Romney may skip the first pre-Florida debate on Monday (the Florida primary is 10 days after S.C.) as mind-boggling. I agree-- with a big SC win and Romney refusing to debate him, Gingles could win Florida which otherwise would be very difficult.
The wild card in S.C. and afterwards is now Rick Sanctimonious. He's finally been officially declared the winner of Iowa, and by many accounts he had a strong debate Thursday, especially in hitting Gingles vulnerabilities. He's polling 4th of 4 at the moment in SC (though Herman Cain is still on the ballot, and Stephen Colbert had the biggest rally of the day in SC to urge voters to vote for Cain) but if he moves up past Ron St. Paul at least, there may be some interest in keeping him in the campaign, just so there is an Anti-Romney left if Gingles implodes.
But at this point I say you know what GOPers? Go ahead and get it over with, nominate Newt. If you're all about unfocused ignorant rage and racism, let's get it out in the open. Give Newt his opportunity to match intellects with President Obama. It's an open question whether the racist strings Gingles is playing reflect his own convictions, but he wouldn't be the first blowhard whose rants get so much applause that he comes to believe them. The idea that Barack Obama is an intellectual lightweight is as ridiculous as it is racist (and for the same reason: there is no evidence to support it, and lots of evidence to the contrary.) Personally I can't wait for that debate. There's plenty of evidence that Gingles doesn't have the true wattage to live up to his bombast. He's all blow and no hard.
As for his Romneyness, the guy is genuinely phony to a point that is almost surreal. His radio interview that Rachel highlighted Friday is close to the equivalent of Cowboy Rick's hugging the syrup moment in New Hampshire. Rachel found the money quotes that shall live forever in campaign ads if he's the nominee, but the whole interview is distinctly weird (including the unforced Oedipal stuff at the beginning.) Here are the quotes though:
Ingraham: How do you answer the president's argument that the economy is getting better in a general election campaign when you yourself are saying that it is getting better?
Romney: Well of course it is getting better. The economy always gets better after a recession. There is always a recovery. There has never been a time, anywhere in the world, where an economy has never recovered. The question is has it recovered by virtue of something the president has done or has he delayed the recovery and made it more painful. And the latter of course is the truth.
Ingraham: Isn't it a hard argument to make if you are saying he inherited this recession and he took a bunch of steps to try to turn the economy around, now we are seeing some more jobs, but vote against him anyways? Isn't that a hard argument to make? Is that a stark enough contrast?
Romney: Have you got a better one Laura? It just happens to be the truth.
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