Maybe Big Mo was having a bad GPS day and couldn’t locate Mitt Romney?
Or was it that he decided to take Newt Gingrich’s direction and figured that South Carolina was an open primary, so hey, why not fool around a little on the side with the swing voters.
Whatever it was, Gingrich stopped the Romney juggernaut cold and added some real oooomph to what had become a tepid campaign, as he scored a solid 40% of the votes, topping Romney’s 29%, in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, and confounding the media, the pollsters, and the pundits, but, most likely not Gingrich, who is the very model of gumption and spitfire all wrapped up in one determined campaign meister.
Just ask John King, the CNN A-list political reporter who took one of Gingrich’s knock out punches last Thursday during a Republican debate in South Carolina when King went for his throat right out of the box .
A punch which laid bare Gingrich’s verve, when he decided he had had enough of the recent savaging he has taken because of news reporting focusing on his personal life.
And sounding like a confidant and feisty A-list candidate, a victorious, beaming Gingrich pronounced on “Meet The Press,” on Sunday morning, “We are going to demand real change in Washington.”
And the Republican Party, with three winners in three states over the past month alone, is facing some changing political terrain over the next few months with the now real possibility that this state by state primary contest will become a solid two-man fight to the end of the long road to Tampa in August at the Republican National Convention with a battle for the 1,444 delegates it will take to score the nomination.
The most recent Gallup Poll today in the Sunshine state of Florida, the next stop for the traveling circus show of candidates, shows Romney at 30% and Gingrich 25% with Ron Paul at 13% and Rick Santorum at 12% .
In Florida, early voting began on Saturday, and 200,000 absentee ballots have already been received for the Republican Presidential Primary set for January 31.
Romney is buttressed in Florida by a strong organization, a massive budget which is being lavished on the 10 major television markets in the state, and a large number of supporters who have been in place for seven years, and who, thus far, have given Romney and his handlers a sense of near entitlement to the State’s 50 delegates in the winner take all contest of the closed primary.
In addition, Romney, who was bested in the Hispanic community four years ago in Florida by John McCain, has supporters and organizers who have done the homework and the legwork and now have the solid backing of the Cuban American Republican voters.
And the curtain raiser in Florida will be Monday night, January 23 when whichever of the four candidates are left will square off in a live televised debate on the USF campus, sponsored by The Tampa Bay Times and NBC and moderated by NBC anchor, Brian Williams.
And, memo to President Obama.
The stakes for both political parties in this election are as high as an elephant’s eye.
According to an election model released by IHS Global Insight, President Obama is on track to receive only 43% of the vote in a two-man race.
A spokesman for the Lexington, Mass. based firm says that the model has been wrong only twice in the past 16 presidential races.
When it predicted that Hubert Humphrey would defeat Richard Nixon in 1968. And again in 1976 when it predicted that Gerald Ford would defeat Jimmy Carter.
Obama organizers and supporters could well be asking themselves, “Where is Ralph Nader when we need him?”