Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich didn’t win the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. But he did edge his main conservative competitor, Rick Santorum, for fourth place. And the former House speaker created momentum for himself heading into the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary with his strong attacks against front-runner Mitt Romney in recent days, Politico
By campaigning in New Hampshire, even with little chance of victory there, Gingrich kept a piece of the spotlight and established new points of combat against the former Massachusetts governor.
In the more conservative state of South Carolina, Gingrich will be fighting with former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the mantle of top conservative challenger to Romney.
And Gingrich will attack the front-runner with all guns blazing. The pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future is spending $3.4 million to broadcast a 27-minute video ripping Romney for his work at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded.
Gingrich has set the bar high for himself in South Carolina, telling reporters Tuesday, “it would be very hard” to continue the campaign if he doesn’t win the state’s primary. Later, on CNN, he termed the Palmetto State a “must win” and promised to go “all out” for victory there.
But even if Gingrich finishes second, as long as it’s Romney in first and the gap between the two isn’t huge, the former House speaker will certainly have the standing to soldier on.
Gingrich has several advantages in South Carolina. He has the strongest organization there. He put in the shoe leather there starting last year, attracting large audiences in the northwest part of the state in December. He represented an east Georgian district in Congress for 20 years.
“We have a lot of folks who are volunteering and working,” Gingrich said. “My younger daughter went to Presbyterian [College] in South Carolina. And I think we have a lot of friends there.”
Gingrich has advantages on the policy side in South Carolina too – guns and abortion. He’s playing up the fact that Romney raised taxes on gun owners as governor and approved government-funded abortions as part of his healthcare reform in Massachusetts. “Second amendment and right to life are very popular with conservative movements,” Gingrich noted.
Gingrich also promises “a campaign for a balanced budget, a campaign for returning power to the states through the 10th Amendment, a campaign for a strong national security, and a campaign for a stable, solid Social Security program both for people now on it and for the young people.”
He said he’s going to present two principal messages in South Carolina. “One is a contrast with Gov. Romney, drawing a sharp distinction between his record as governor and my record,” Gingrich said.
“And then second, I think the question of electability and who is capable of winning against Obama,” he said, citing his work in campaigns of 1980 and 1994. “I think among the conservatives, that makes me far and away the person who has the best understanding of how to win.”
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