Keeping Up With The Candidates

After pulling a victory in New Hampshire on Jan. 10, Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP are trekking to the right-winged conservative state of South Carolina this Saturday, Jan. 21. Looming questions remain: Will Romney win the Republican nomination? Is he unstoppable, or will the strong evangelical audience and aggressive opponents sweep him out of nomination?

According to recent polls, Mitt Romney’s success in the Republican race may be coming to an end with a predicted loss expected in South Carolina. Although much of Romney’s campaign has encouraged restoring the economy in the state that has yet to recover a third of the 165,000 jobs lost in the recession, it may not be enough to swing the state in his favor. This may be a result of Romney being dubbed a “timid Massachusetts moderate” by Newt Gingrich amongst concrete conservatives at a recent debate.

Many feel that the real concern with Romney lies in his varying stance on social issues where far right Republicans won’t budge.

It cannot be disputed that Romney has had a winning streak and success in both Iowa and New Hampshire that continues to look promising. While Romney claimed victory in Iowa by a crucial eight votes, his 16 percent lead over Ron Paul in New Hampshire was a definitive success. New Hampshire yielded concrete results, with Romney claiming 39.9 percent, Ron Paul following behind him with 22.9 percent, Jon Huntsman with 16.9 percent, and Gringrich and Santorum both getting 9.4 percent in the polls.

But with Iowa’s neck-and-neck results in mind, it is still any man’s game going into the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21.

Andrew Kohut, president of the independent Pew Research Center said the GOP right are essentially seeking a “rebellious kind of candidate.”

“This is a more doctrinaire Republican base than we had seen in the last 25 years,” said Kohut. “It is much more hard-core than in the past.”

The LA Times reported Romney’s opponents “portrayed the former Massachusetts governor as a shape-shifting opportunist and a closet moderate out of step with most of the party’s primary voters,” indicating Romney may be expecting a loss this coming weekend that could drop him out of nomination.

Time will tell if Romney decides to skip out of a couple of debates this coming weekend to protect his reputation from further attack and scrutiny.

The New Hampshire primary proved to be a battleground for the six GOP presidential candidates, with a slew of blows marking an aggressive turn at the “Meet the Press” debate held on Sunday, Jan. 8. The session began with a Gingrich attack on Romney, after the moderator David Gregory congratulated him on his recent success in Iowa.

“I think what Republicans have to ask is who’s most likely in the long run — to survive against the kind of billion-dollar campaign the Obama team is going to run,” said Gingrich. “And I think that a bold Reagan conservative with a very strong economic plan is a lot more likely to succeed in that campaign than a relatively timid Massachusetts moderate who even the Wall Street Journal said had an economy plan so timid it resembled Obama’s.”

Gingrich went on to comment on Massachusetts’s poor job market, ranking the state at “fourth from the bottom” in terms of creating jobs while Romney was in office. But Gingrich was not the only candidate attempting to downplay Romney’s victory as Santorum scrutinized the Massachusetts governor’s decision not to run for state re-election. Santorum related Romney’s decision not to run as a tell-tale sign of how he might approach his presidency.

“I’m very proud of the record that I have, and I think the one thing you can’t fool the people about New Hampshire about is the record of a governor next door,” said Romney. “And people have watched me over my term as governor and saw that I was a solid conservative and that I brought important change to Massachusetts. They recognized that I cut taxes 19 times, balanced the budget every one of the four years I was governor and put in place a $2 billion rainy day fund by the time I’d gone.”

“We created more jobs in Massachusetts,” declared Romney as a final refute to Gingrich’s claim, “than Barack Obama’s created in the entire country.”