Brave Newt World: 3 Contests, 3 Winners

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  January 23, 2012 at 8:40 AM EST

Newt and Callista Gingrich; photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista celebrate the former House speaker’s victory in South Carolina. Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

As Jay-Z says, on to the next one.

In a 40 percent to 28 percent rout, Newt Gingrich won more raw votes Saturday in South Carolina than Mitt Romney won in New Hampshire and Iowa combined. (See the final tally on the NewsHour’s results map.)

Gingrich won just about every demographic — Tea Party voters, those who consider themselves somewhat or very conservative and voters who said the most important quality a candidate should have is the ability to beat President Obama. The former House speaker did best with voters who made up their minds in the last month and those who said the debates were an important factor in their choice.

Romney won voters with incomes of $200,000 or more, exit polls showed.

During his victory speech Saturday night, Gingrich praised the three other major candidates in the race and said he and his rivals prove that “in America, you have a chance to make your case no matter what the elites think in New York and Washington.”

Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who came in fourth place, noted in his speech that while the other hopefuls have gone dramatically up and down, his campaign has seen “steady growth.” He told reporters he’ll focus on winning caucuses in small states instead of Florida.

Then there’s Rick Santorum’s approach to a third-place showing: “Three states, three winners, what a great country.”

“It’s a wide open race, join the fight,” the former senator from Pennsylvania said.

Gingrich supporters watching Santorum on a TV screen chanted, “Drop out now!”

Santorum returned the favor on ABC’s “This Week,” calling Gingrich “erratic.”

“This is a long haul….The longer this campaign goes on the better it is for conservatives,” he said.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” a humbled Romney promised to release his 2010 tax return and an estimate of his 2011 return on Tuesday. The faltering front-runner predicted that his rivals — and Democrats — would “try and find something” but said there was nothing unusual to be found. He said he pays “full, fair” taxes and “you’ll see it’s a substantial amount.”

The former Massachusetts governor also called Gingrich “a very high risk candidate” and outlined his own “sobriety and steadiness” and a capacity to demonstrate leadership under fire. He said Gingrich “had a good week,” while it was “not a great week for me.”

“The only way to be successful is to come back from the inevitable downturns,” Romney said. “This is a tough process…and that’s the way it ought to be.”

The four GOP presidential candidates left standing will meet again for a debate Monday night in Tampa.

PALMETTO POTPOURRI

If you missed anything Saturday, the NewsHour’s live blog has you covered. Check it out.

Gwen Ifill offered her take on the results.

Saturday night she also noted on Twitter (@pbsgwen), “In case u were wondering, Ron Paul was just spotted watching basketball game on lobby TV at Hampton Inn in Columbia.”

NewsHour reporter-producer Quinn Bowman (@quinnbowman) chatted with Paul in the hotel. The congressman “said Newt win ‘didn’t surprise anybody’ http://pic.twitter.com/T7ykQr7c.”

Washington Week partnered with University of South Carolina journalism students Jenni Knight and Alex Heaton to see what issues were the most important to student voters in Columbia.

Here’s what they found:

It’s worth noting that in each of the first three Republican contests of the 2012 election, Super PACs did not rule the day. Romney’s Restore our Future spent the most in Iowa, but he came in a close second. Jon Huntsman’s Super PAC spent the most in New Hampshire, and he only placed third. And Romney’s Super PAC outspent the others in South Carolina.

NEXT STOP, FLORIDA

Gingrich won’t get much time to celebrate. South Carolina will quickly fade in the rear view mirror with two debates ahead of the primary in an expensive — and expansive — state with general election consequences.

Dan Balz of the Washington Post has a must-read preview of the Sunshine State primary:

Florida presents a major challenge, given its size and complexity. The stakes there will be sizable. Romney cannot afford another defeat there, given that he has more resources to wage a campaign in a state where campaigning is costly. Gingrich, however, risks losing his momentum if he is not able to capitalize on this success in Florida.

Emily Friedman of ABC News looks at Romney’s ground game in Florida, which includes three campaign offices and five paid staff members:

They have county chairs in place in all 67 counties in Florida and have spread their staffers and volunteers across the state, with presence in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Miami and the Panhandle.

Television ads – three of them, to be exact – are on the air, and have been since Jan. 3, and a fourth, in Spanish, is also running. Mailers are also being circulated. Staffers have been hosting near-daily phone banking sessions since September and have made contact with the list the list of residents registered to receive absentee ballots, a list made public by the Secretary of State.

Gingrich’s campaign distributed a press release Monday morning touting its seven campaign headquarters (plus two pending), as well as 14 paid staff, and approximately 5,000 statewide volunteers.

Romney and Gingrich — and their big-spending Super PACs — will have Florida mostly to themselves this week. Paul is making his play for caucus states and announced a “substantial” television ad buy in Nevada and Minnesota ahead of their contests.

Santorum seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The New York Times’ Katharine Q. Seelye reported Sunday that after the debate, Santorum “intends to campaign in states that vote the following week, including Nevada, Minnesota and Colorado, as well as Arizona and Michigan, which vote at the end of February.”

More from her story:

“Our campaign is small, and no state is a make-or-break state for us,” said John Brabender, Mr. Santorum’s top media strategist.

“We are very frugal,” he added. “We can go on endlessly.”

The possibility of picking up a smattering of delegates in these states makes them more enticing than Florida, a big, expensive state that awards its delegates on a winner-take-all basis. That means that even a second-place showing earns no delegates, making it a risky place to play.

“We’re not parking ourselves in Florida,” Mr. Brabender said. “There are other good states with proportional voting that will give us delegates.”

CHANGE OF HEART

Four years ago, President Obama mentioned Patricia Moseley in his victory speech after the South Carolina primary, lauding the Republican who had campaigned for him door-to-door.

Then-candidate Obama had showcased this woman, an educator, as an example of how the once-segregated South can change. Before the election, his campaign had hosted a small roundtable that included Moseley, and she was an example of the type of voter who helped him topple Hillary Clinton and later Sen. John McCain.

Moseley took some of her students to Washington for Mr. Obama’s inauguration and pledged to help him achieve his agenda.

But on Saturday, Moseley cast a ballot for Gingrich.

She’s not the typical voter who has switched from President Obama to the Republicans, and in fact, she still likes the president.

“Just like I believed in 2008 that Barack Obama was the man for the job, I feel this way in 2012 that Newt is the man for the job,” Moseley told the Morning Line. (As a Washington Times reporter during the 2008 campaign, I spent the day with Moseley as she helped get-out-the-vote for Obama, and we’ve stayed in touch for years. — C.B.)

When Moseley chatted with the Morning Line on Saturday, she lauded some of President Obama’s accomplishments but said it was more about healing the dysfunction in Congress, and she thinks Gingrich has a proven record of working with both parties.

“I still love Barack Obama, I love his story. I think he is a good man and he has great intentions, but I really believe with all my heart that we need a Washington insider to work with Congress,” Moseley said. “If he wins re-election I don’t think that he’s going to be able to get anything done. It’s going to take an insider with relationships to get something done. I think Gingrich is that person.”

But what if Romney wins the GOP nomination? Will Moseley vote a second time for Mr. Obama, or stick with her Republican roots? “I don’t know what I would do,” she said.

WHO IS SAUL ALINSKY, ANYWAY?

From NewsHour politics desk assistant Alex Bruns:

“The centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky,” Gingrich said during his South Carolina victory speech Saturday night. It’s a frequently used line for Gingrich when he goes after President Obama.

Saul Alinsky was a community organizer and writer working in the middle of the 20th century. Born and raised in Chicago, Alinsky did most of his work there and in California to organize and empower minorities living in urban slums. During his life, Alinsky was seen by conservatives as the umbrella covering all urban liberal radicalism, but his extreme socialist views also alienated him from most Democrats.

Shortly before his death, Alinsky wrote his treatise, “Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals.” Here’s how he described the book in the introduction: “‘The Prince’ was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. ‘Rules for Radicals’ is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

For more, check out this CNN post.

SOTU PREVIEW

President Obama gave supporters an early look at his third State of the Union address over the weekend, emailing them a web video previewing the remarks he is slated to give Tuesday night.

“In a lot of ways, my address on Tuesday will be a bookend to what I said in Kansas last month about the central mission we have as a country, and my central focus as President. And that’s rebuilding an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded — and an America where everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same set of rules.” Mr. Obama says in the video.

Last December, the president gave a speech in Osawatomie, declaring that the country was at a “make-or-break moment for the middle class.” The town was selected for its historical significance, as Teddy Roosevelt gave his “New Nationalism” speech there in 1910 calling for a “square deal” for Americans.

It appears the issue of “fairness” will again be a central theme of the president’s speech Tuesday night. “We can go in two directions. One is towards less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

The president said he will lay out a “blueprint for an American economy that’s built to last,” with a focus on manufacturing, alternative energy sources and education.

Roll Call’s Kate Ackley writes that the White House has been reaching out to unions, interest groups and other downtown stakeholders for the past few weeks, soliciting data points and political feedback for the speech.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane checked in with four of the pairings from last year’s bipartisan seating at the State of the Union. Turns out, they didn’t get much done, save Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

In his preview, President Obama also promoted watch parties around the country.

Join the NewsHour family Tuesday night for a State of the Union watch party, made possible through the magic of technology.

2012 LINE ITEMS

Here’s the analysis from Mark Shields and David Brooks from Friday night’s show.

And find out their picks for the SuperBowl in our first DoubleHeader of 2012.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the trio of split results in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina show “the vibrancy of the Republican party.” But Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., suggested at a House GOP retreat this week he’d rather see the primary wrap up quickly.

“The more we can coalesce around a single nominee the more straightforward the choice will be for the for American people,” Rep. Cantor said, according to Luke Russert at NBC News. “I don’t know if I’ll endorse before it’s over. I’m leaving the option open.”

Ryan Lizza delves deep into the Obama White House in this New Yorker piece.

TWEETS OF THE MORNING

OUTSIDE THE LINES

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., announced Sunday in a web video that she will resign from Congress, more than one year since a gunman tried to assassinate her in Tucscon. Her staff said she will attend the State of the Union address and finish the “Congress on Your Corner” event that was halted on that tragic day.

Giffords’ decision — a surprise, given that her colleagues were fundraising for her re-election — means a House vacancy and a special election. Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad breaks down that contest and offers a few potential candidate names. “The special will be run under the current district lines, which makes it highly competitive. Former Rep. Jim Kolbe (R) held the seat for 11 terms before Giffords won it in 2006,” he writes.

Under the headline “Lobbyist Helps a Project He Financed in Congress,” the New York Times’ Eric Lichtblau writes about former Rep. Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, whose lobbying firm stands to profit from a project funded by his own congressional earmark.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Texas redistricting case has major political implications. Watch the NewsHour’s report.

The New York Times takes a look at Gov. Rick Perry’s Texas now that he’s back on the job full-time.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • The four remaining GOP contenders meet for a debate in Tampa, broadcast on NBC beginning at 9 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney holds a roundtable discussion on housing issues in Tampa at 8 a.m.

  • Rick Santorum tours PGT Manufacturing in North Venice, Fla., at 10 a.m. and holds a town hall in Lady Lake at 1:30 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich holds a grassroots welcome event in Tampa at 2 p.m.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @quinnbowman.