Surging presidential contender Newt Gingrich says he has a “very good chance” of winning the South Carolina primary Saturday and since his Palmetto State chances were not considered good until recent days, the victory would be an “earthquake” in his race for the Republican nomination. The former House speaker also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren after Thursday night’s CNN debate his lot could lie with undecided voters.
“We’re getting a lot of folks coming on board right now, and I think we have a very good chance to win on Saturday,” Gingrich said. “And that, of course, would be a real earthquake in this race in a 10-day period — nobody, I think, thought coming down here from New Hampshire that I was likely to win.”
When asked about undecided South Carolina voters, Gingrich said: “I suspect there’s still about 10 or 15 percent undecided, and another 10 or 15 percent who are leaning but could switch between now and Saturday — I mean, people are paying real attention — they’re looking at things.”
“You’ve seen a very dramatic change in the polls this week. I think in four days’ time, I jumped 11 points, for example — Governor Romney’s come down a little bit — and so you’ve seen a lot of turmoil in that sense,” he said. “And I think that it really seemed to start Monday night with the debate, and then, frankly, when Governor [Sarah] Palin said that she would vote for me if she was here, and then when Rush Limbaugh spent several hours reviewing the debate — each of these things built more momentum.
“We were thrilled today to have Governor [Rick] Perry, who’s a great friend of ours, decide that he would endorse me — he didn’t have to do that — it was just a great moment; I think that sends another signal,” Gingrich continued. “The speaker of the [South Carolina] House, Bobby Harrell, has endorsed me. Tomorrow, I’m going to be introduced at the Yorktown, the aircraft carrier, by General [James E.] Livingston, who’s a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and a very, very famous South Carolinian, and that’s another step in the right direction.”
On the issue of airing of the controversial ABC News interview with Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne, where she accused him of wanting an open marriage, the former speaker reiterated the accusation was false and a presidential debate was an inappropriate forum for discussing the subject.
“If voters ask it, or if you get asked it in a normal press conference, you just answer it because you’re running for president and you owe people a candid answer — you don’t particularly want to get in fights that involve 20-year-old incidents,” Gingrich said. “I’m happy to say it wasn’t true — and we have five or six people who know us at the time, all of whom are willing to say it's not true — and we offered those to the media.
“I just thought to open a national presidential debate at that kind of personal level, with such nonsense — and the audience, you could tell the audience agreed totally that it was just nonsense,” he said. “We have big things in this country, jobs, balancing the budget, defending America, re-establishing American values, economic growth — lots of things to talk about other than that.”
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