South Carolina notebook: Candidates rushing to leap rather than be pushed out of the race
We knew that some of the 2012 GOP presidential candidates would be practically eliminated after South Carolina. Two of them jumped before they were pushed.
— Jon Huntsman’s timing was bad because it looked like he dropped out as he realized he would lose to Stephen Colbert. Huntsman endorsed Mitt Romney, which seemed sad since most independents, if they had to vote for a Mormon former governor with great hair, would have picked Huntsman over Romney.
— Rick Perry’s timing was bad because it looked like he dropped out as he realized he would have to debate one more time. Perry endorsed Newt Gingrich, which seemed sad since if the coin had come up tails, Rick Santorum would have had the endorsement. Perry likes coins because they offer only two options; he never remembers the third option for some reason.
— Herman Cain’s timing was great because it looked smarter for staying out. Cain endorsed Colbert’s bid to campaign under his name, which seemed sad since Colbert is a better candidate as a fake candidate than Cain was as a real candidate.
— Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined would represent a serious threat to Mitt Romney. Not quite in a Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton kind of race, but the tightest race the Republicans have had since, well, William Howard Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. The problem is even though they are vested and experienced politicians, while they know they are splitting the conservative vote, neither of them can get the other one to leave. Santorum’s Iowa win, now confirmed, would give him that momentum, but Gingrich’s loudness overshadows Santorum’s attempts to get noticed. After all, Santorum didn’t have an ex-wife on “Nightline” this week. Gingrich should be thankful it was only one.
— Gingrich got a partial standing ovation for confronting John King on asking the question about an open marriage in Thursday’s debate. As offended as Gingrich appeared to be, he had to love the question so he could react the way he did. As for Gingrich, when you protest that way, we assume your ex-wife’s charge is true.
Gingrich puts his marriages on the record because he preaches family values, the “sanctity of marriage,” and his hypocrisy during the Clinton years. So he shouldn’t pretend to be miffed.
If politicians really could admit what they’re thinking, especially GOP politicians, wouldn’t it have been great for Gingrich to say, “Yeah, I wanted a open marriage. What does that have to do with running the country and getting the economy back on track.” The problem for Gingrich and other “holier-than-thous” is that they would have to admit that family values and “sanctity of marriage” have nothing to do with running the country.
— If you had to name the two most consistent GOP presidential candidates besides Mitt Romney, Rick Perry is the most obvious choice for finishing consistently bad and saying really horrible things but Ron Paul has had two solid finishes and is looking for a third in South Carolina. This isn’t to say that Ron Paul will win or should win. The MSM’s curious coverage of Ron Paul lends itself to conspiracy theories from people who aren’t normally paranoid. The voters have spoken in Iowa and New Hampshire, and later today in South Carolina; the MSM should start listening. If you are running for president and score as high as Ron Paul does, attention should be paid to you. If not, then you aren’t doing your job.
— We would like to welcome back Keith Olbermann to anchor coverage of the South Carolina primary tonight on Current TV. Coverage gets underway at 6:30 pm Eastern and runs 90 minutes. The coverage resumes at 9:30 pm Eastern for another 90 minutes. You might remember that Olbermann sat out coverage of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Building a news operation takes time; even within that, Current TV has been off to a bad start. The graphics issues and lighting problems are real, and Olbermann has every right to be concerned about the professional approach of the cable channel. Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks, Jennifer Granholm, and former Vice President Al Gore, head of Current TV, has done a pretty good job, though their coverage has been sidetracked at times, especially when you want results. I drifted back to MSNBC at times. It does help that MSNBC is in HD and Current TV isn’t, but Rachel Maddow was focused. Olbermann had that potential to keep the focus; Olbermann has done a lot more anchoring than everyone in this paragraph combined. The best solution would be to combine the two approaches into one, but it looks like everyone we’ve seen so far in coverage won’t be there tonight.