GOP race breaks open

Newt Gingrich loses his luster to Rick Santorum
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The GOP race is wide open. Three key developments have removed Mitt Romney as front-runner and narrowed the field. But will gossip decide?

Gingrich eclipses Romney in GOP race

A new Rasmussen poll shows Newt Gingrich scoring higher than Mitt Romney in voter preference in South Carolina. (See also here and here.) The specific results:

  • Gingrich……33%
  • Romney……31%
  • Paul…………15%
  • Santorum….11%
  • Perry…………2%
  • Other…………1%
  • Not Sure…….6%

NBC News already had a poll showing that Gingrich had closed in on Romney, before Rasmussen’s result showing that Gingrich had surpassed him.

This result came out before the next development:

Rick Perry drops out of GOP race

Newt Gingrich at CPAC Florida. He is the new leader in the GOP race.

Newt Gingrich at the CPAC conference in Orlando, FL, September, 2011

Rick Perry, even before that poll result came out, dropped out of the GOP race and endorsed Newt Gingrich. The Associated Press knew he would drop out early this morning. Perry’s reason was simple: he was running dead last, and he knew he would never win. Why Perry endorsed Gingrich, and not Rick Santorum, no one will speculate.

And finally:

Rick Santorum really beat Mitt Romney in Iowa

This development prompted the AP to say that the GOP race had turned “bizarre.” Mitt Romney did not win the Iowa caucuses. Rick Santorum did, by thirty-four votes. But the Republican Party in Iowa calls this a “split decision.” Their grounds: eight precinct caucus reporters each failed to file Form E, the official form listing caucus vote totals. Without this written evidence, the Republican Party refuses to certify the overall vote. Said one witness in Iowa:

The Iowa Republican Party has been caught in a lie and with their pants down trying to orchestrate a win for the ‘Establishment’ candidate, Romney. Isn’t it interesting that on caucus night a lead of 8 votes was touted by all as a win for Romney but a lead of 34 for Santorum is a tie?

Mitt Romney is determined to win. To do that, he needs conservative votes. That might explain why he made this retort to an Occupy Wall Street-style protester:

Let me tell you something. America is a great nation, because we’re a united nation. And those who are trying to divide the nation, as you’re trying to do here, and as our president is doing, are hurting this country seriously. The right course for America is not to try to divide America, and try and divide us between one and another. It’s to come together as a nation.

And if you’ve got a better model — if you think China’s better, or Russia’s better, or Cuba’s better, or North Korea’s better — I’m glad to hear all about it.

But you know what? America’s right, and you’re wrong.

A resentful Washington Post commentator said that Romney had told someone in effect to “go back to Russia.”

The Gossip Factor

Now comes the truly bizarre part: ABC News thinks that it can decide the GOP race — with gossip. They announced this morning that Marianne Gingrich, Newt Gingrich’s second wife, had given an interview to the producers of their Nightline program. The second Mrs. Gingrich seems to have told ABC that her husband demanded an “open marriage” as the price of his continuing to live in the same house with her, this after she discovered his affair with his eventual current wife. She refused, Newt divorced her, and the rest is history.

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Marianne seems to have changed her story in one particular: when, precisely, she learned that she had multiple sclerosis. (Marianne is not the same woman on whom Newt allegedly served divorce papers while she was recovering from a cancer treatment. That story refers to his first wife, Jackie.)

This is the same ABC who, along with other Mainstream Media organs, decried Republican attempts to decide national policy with gossip, when Bill Clinton was President.

Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, and Ron Paul will have one more debate tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST. CNN will carry it. Then the voting in the primary will begin.