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GOP Race: Romney Lost Iowa; Perry Pulls Out; Gingrich on the Creep

Posted on the 19 January 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

GOP race: Romney lost Iowa; Perry pulls out; Gingrich on the creep

Governor Rick Perry. Photo credit: Ed Schipul,

What a difference a day (or two) makes – especially in the soap opera that the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination is turning into.

Mitt Romney, formerly the man to beat, is in trouble after both finding out that he actually lost the Iowa caucus to Rick Santorum and having to reveal that he pays significantly less in taxes than he ought. Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is enjoying yet another surge in popularity, just in time for the South Carolina primary on January 21. And Texas Governor Rick Perry just announced on Thursday, the day of the last pre-primary debate, that he’s calling it: After his fifth-place finish in Iowa and skipping New Hampshire all together, he’s dropping out of the race. That leaves four, following Jon Huntsman exit this week, and provided that no one else (Stephen Colbert, anyone?) decides to parachute in.

Rick Perry: Cutting his losses. Perry’s decision to drop out of the race was by no means shocking; he had, after all, performed dismally in Iowa and had swerved New Hampshire to bet the farm on South Carolina. In theory, analysts said, his pro-military, pro-Christian message should have found some resonance there, but recent polling saw in him in fifth place in the conservative Southern state. Said The Los Angeles Times, “[T]he self-inflicted damage he suffered as a result of his stumbling performances in early debates proved too much to overcome.”

What happened in Iowa? According to the most recent reports, frontrunner Romney’s near loss in the January 3 Iowa was an actual loss: Former Pennsylvania senator and Catholic social conservative Santorum finished 34 votes ahead of the former Massachusetts governor in the latest tally. Reported The Washington Post, Santorum won’t officially be declared the winner because votes from eight of Iowa’s 1,774 precincts are missing; the state Republican party, however, offered no explanation as to where those votes might have got to. The party is now rescinding Romney’s victory and calling the whole thing a “split decision”. Lest we think anything fishy is going on, The New York Times’s The Caucus blog spoke to two anonymous Iowa state officials who said that the decision to not declare an official winner wasn’t about letting Romney save face, but was the “only option” after a “thorough review” of the votes that could be located.

But will it make a difference? Said The Washington Post, “Because delegates are not allocated or bound by caucus results, or awarded only to the winning candidate, Santorum’s apparent victory will have little impact on his uphill battle to win the nomination. But the new results mean Romney can no longer claim to be the first non-incumbent GOP candidate since 1976 to win both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.” Santorum, meanwhile, moved quickly to claim victory and Romney moved just as quickly to call it a “virtual tie”.

Bad timing for Romney. The news couldn’t come at a worse time for Romney’s candidacy, as pressure increases on the millionaire to disclose his tax returns and information about his personal wealth. Romney admitted on Wednesday that he pays an effective tax rate of only about 15 percent, given that much of his income is from capital gains. Wrote Ben Schilling at The New Statesman, “The conventional wisdom is that it is better for him to talk about his finances now, while he is doing well in the polls, and the real election is still months away. But it’s also possible the admission will plant a seed that will grow and grow under careful cultivation from the Democrats, and sections of the media. Obama is already planning to make inequality a main focus of his rhetoric, hoping to channel some of the OWS anger. An opponent who pays less tax than most of the population could be a perfect foil.”

Newt’s making moves and betting it all on South Carolina. And then there’s Newt Gingrich. The former Speaker with an explosive temper is creeping up the South Carolina polls and, said David Horsey, writing at his Top of the Ticket blog at The Los Angeles Times, “the guy ahead of him, Mitt Romney, as well the guy behind him, Rick Santorum, are rattled.” Gingrich has been written off twice in this campaign so far, and there’s no guarantee that he won’t be again – noted Horsey, Gingrich “seems so full of himself”, and he fails the “somebody you’d want to have a beer with because he’s just like you” test. But in the meantime, he’s gaining if not the hearts of the South Carolina conservative voter, at least the minds. Gingrich himself has said, The Huffington Post reported, that if he doesn’t win in South Carolina, Romney will likely take the nomination. And, warned Gingrich, Romney can’t win against President Barack Obama. He’s not being defeatist, exactly, but realistic: John Dickerson, writing at, noted, “If Gingrich doesn’t catch Romney, it might be the last chance for those in the party who want to stop the front-runner.”

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