Browsing through Memeorandum, naturally there is article after article and discussions galore about how Mitt Romneyy, who was double digits ahead of Newt Gingrich earlier in the week, ended up losing the South Carolina primary to Gingrich by over 12 percentage points. The defeat was so sound that the projected winner, Gingrich, was announced by all major networks within minutes of the polls closing.
According to CBS's county by county page Gingrich took 43 of 46 counties in South Carolina. New York Times has some data on the exit polls and it is telling that Gingrich took the lead of those very conservative or somewhat conservative and Mitt took a three percentage point lead over Gingrich from those self identified as "moderate to liberal."
The Morning After Analysis
In 2008 I simply couldn't get behind Mitt Romney and when asked why, all I could articulate was that "there is something about him" I just couldn't stand. Horrible articulation I know, but he rubs me wrong and always has. Then this morning, while slogging through piece after piece of the morning after the primary analysis, I ran across a piece by Byron York over at The Washington Examiner, which quoted a former Huntsman supporter that backed Gingrich after Huntsman dropped out of the race.
Why? Even after four years of trying, Campbell can't quite accept Romney's changes of position on abortion and other issues. But beyond that, Campbell explained, there was something about Romney that he, like a lot of other South Carolinians, just couldn't live with. "[Voters] can't quite get that comfort level with him," Campbell said. "They don't really know quite where he really is coming from. It's an intangible."
Another legendary South Carolina political name, Attorney General Henry McMaster, was also aligned with Huntsman until Monday, and he too chose Gingrich instead of Romney. McMaster cited Gingrich's performance in the two South Carolina debates as a prime factor in his decision, but he also expressed concern over Romney's problem engaging voters. "I don't know why," McMaster said Saturday night. "I can't explain it, but there's a little bit of a connection problem."
As a voter I can't connect with Romney. I couldn't imagine myself sitting down with him and being comfortable. I couldn't imagine having a conversation with him because he is too busy talking at people instead of seeming to talk to them.
Here is another thing, and while it seems simplistic, it is an important factor in how I see candidates. I think of Mitt Romney as "Romney", I think of Newt Gingrich as "Newt."
That is something Newt has in common with Ron Paul. Paul's supporters feel connected to him which is why I think they are so loyal to him. While not a Ron Paul supporter myself, it is easy to see why they are so loyal to him.
York's piece also highlighted another comparison that resonates:
Romney stages perfect events. For example, on the eve of the primary, Romney's rally in North Charleston was perfect from a production point of view: stage just right, big flags, big Romney signs, smooth introductions from South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, all topped off by a showy entrance by Romney, who arrived in his big campaign bus that drove right into the room.
It was perfect in every sense but engaging with the voters. Romney's stump speech was a clipped -- some would say dumbed down -- list of generalities, concluding with this: "I love this land, I love its Constitution, I revere its founders, I will restore those principles, I will get America back to work, and I'll make sure that we remain the shining city on the hill." Romney offered his supporters very little to chew on. In this primary race, voters are hungry for substance, and Romney didn't give them much.
Gingrich's last event before the voting, a couple of hours later, was a rally on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a floating museum across the bay from Charleston. It was a most un-perfect affair. To begin with, it just so happened that dozens of Cub Scouts were having an overnight on the Yorktown at the same time as Gingrich and the press showed up for the rally. Their presence contributed to an air of happy chaos on board, and Gingrich was delighted to invite a few scouts on stage with him at the beginning of his speech. When Gingrich got to the substance of his remarks, he was wandering, expansive, and detailed, where Romney had been brief and canned. But Gingrich kept the crowd with him the whole way, and in the end had engaged his audience more than Romney could have hoped for. Gingrich respected them enough to discuss issues with them seriously.
I repeat my comment from earlier... exactly.
Romney always appears to be trying too hard to be "perfect." No one is perfect. Romney expends too much energy attempting to appear "presidential." Perhaps he should spend a little more energy on attempting to appear human.
In no way, shape, or form is Newt perfect and he doesn't even try to pretend he is. Newt acknowledges his mistakes, his flaws and apologizes for them and moves on instead of trying to excuse, justify or explain them.
Side note- For those that continue to harp on the ethics investigations in the 90's- please read the AP article at the time when the last of the 84 charges were dropped and the actual violation was "using a political consultant to develop the Republican legislative agenda."
Talk about sitting on that couch with Nancy Pelosi or any other mistake but before talking about the dropped charges, read them, learn them, then speak to them. End Side Note
Another major difference is that Romney doesn't seem to get his audience, which goes back to that business of talking at people instead of to them.
Romney spent most of his so-called concession speech attacking Newt instead of gracefully congratulating him and focusing on the endgame which is replacing Barack Obama. Romney rarely highlights what Republican supporters see as the liberal media bias from the majority of the mainstream Obama media.
Newt's speech on the other hand, highlighted something good in each of the other candidates, then went on to annihilate Barack Obama. Newt doesn't worry about offending the media by calling them out on being cheerleaders for Obama, he understands that they are going to attack any and all Republican candidates to protect their choice for 2012 which is Obama.
(See both speeches and the Paul and Santorum speeches- HERE.)
I was a Rick Perry supporter, although in hindsight I can see that one-on-one against Obama, Perry's message of jobs and economy, would have taken second place to his ability to articulate that message.
Out of the four candidates left, Paul, Santorum, Romney and Newt, I choose Newt.
Newt will not pull punches against Obama and the liberal faction of the media. Newt will keep his eye on the objective which is to remove Barack Obama from office. Newt will fight the battles conservatives find the most important.
Newt will make mincemeat out of Obama in debates, in speeches and in terms of knowledge and how to get America headed back to the right direction.
Conservatives are going to need a fighter to battle Obama in 2012 and Newt has proven that he is a fighter.
[Update] While Newt has shown his ability to be competitive, Romney has the money and the on the ground organization in Florida. Newt will need money by way of donations, will need feet on the ground by way of volunteers to help, and will need to overcome, as he did in South Carolina, a large polling lead that Romney has over Newt as of now.
Each state has it's own dynamic and as Newt stated in his South Carolina victory speech, he needs help. He needs people to reach out to their Florida contacts to make the case against Romney.