Monday, January 23, 2012

Was South Carolina A Fluke?

Was South Carolina A Fluke?
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet

Within mere moments after South Carolina’s primary win by Newt Gingrich members of the mainstream media began referring to Newt’s win as a fluke.  I beg to differ.

You’d think the “experts” would have had time to discern exactly what the conservative voters of SC would do.  We told you -- weeks ago -- they would not vote for Romney. 

If Newt is able to assemble an organization and pull in the necessary funds, SC is not the only state in the south he will win.

Look.  Newt is not all that popular in the south.  Referred to often as a “carpetbagger” having been born in Pennsylvania in 1943 and partially reared in Georgia.  Newt’s stepfather was a career solider so Newt actually grew up in several states but finally took root in Georgia.

According to Wikipedia, he attended high school in Columbus, Georgia. Gingrich attended Emory University and received his Ph.D. from Tulane University. In the 1970s he taught history and geography at West Georgia College. (SOURCE)
Just as Romney is seen as a “northeastern elitist,” Newt is often spoken of as a “carpetbagger.” Southerners do not easily accept either.

So why did the quintessential southerners, in my native state of South Carolina, hand the primary election to Newt on a silver platter?  For several reasons.

Primarily, Newt is not Romney.  That was the number one reason Newt won in SC.  Secondly, Newt demonstrated that “fire” in the belly we mentioned in an earlier commentary.  THAT is what southerners like to see in a leader -- a leader who will actually, in fact, lead.

 Southerners are desperately seeking a leader who is not afraid to confront his detractors, head-on, with a withering counter attack.  Newt demonstrated he could do that with devastating efficiency.  And thirdly, Newt was exactly the candidate conservatives needed to send a message to the GOP.  That message, sent loud and clear, was -- we do not want Romney as our nominee.

One could also add that Romney’s conversion from moderate to conservative simply is not believed in the south, especially in South Carolina, as we have just seen.

Then there is the belief in the south that Gingrich could, and would, slice and dice Obama in a debate.  A friend told me recently that he would pay good money just to see a Gingrich/Obama debate. 

I stand by my earlier prognostications that the southern states will not support Romney in the primaries. Having said that, allow me to hastily add that I expect Romney to win the Florida primary.  Is it a contradiction?  No, it is not.  Depending upon the region in Florida, Newt will deliver a very good account of himself in the votes cast. 

Understand, we southerners do not really consider Florida a “southern” state, even though it is, next to Texas, the southernmost state in the Union – geographically.  Culturally, it is about as southern as New York City. Northern Florida could just as easily be southern Georgia.  The panhandle of Florida is a mix with a huge military presence.  Central to southern Florida is a mix of “snowbirds,” refugees from the colder climes of the northern states, Hispanics, and a few native Floridians.  It is a melting pot of all races and cultures.  It is, some would say, cosmopolitan and sophisticated. Some would say that.  I would not.

Romney has a huge, well-financed, well-oiled political machine in Florida, which has been hard at work for at least five months.  More votes have already been cast in early voting in Florida than the total number of votes cast in the Iowa caucus.  Romney has a huge jump on Newt as the battle for the GOP nominee steams into Florida. 

But what about the primaries after Florida?

I expect Romney to continue to do well in the northern states.  As in New Hampshire -- he is one of “theirs.”  However, he will continue to have problems in the southern states – until – the republican establishment destroys Newt. 
 The attacks have already begun.  The Mainstream Media, the Democrats, and the Republican Establishment will bring their collective firepower to bear on Newt in a combined effort to assure that he is removed as an impediment in the anointee’s parade to the presidency. 

Problem is, many conservatives do not believe Romney can beat Obama.  (I count myself among them.)  And, what’s worse for the GOP, those conservatives are not going to vote for Romney, because they do not believe he is a conservative.  Without the conservative vote in November, Romney hasn’t a prayer of a chance against Obama.

The GOP establishment made another significant error in South Carolina.  Sandlappers were offended by the Romney camp’s assumption that they would win SC. There was, about the Romney camp, an air of a prince awaiting his crowning as king.   That attitude is especially repugnant to South Carolinians and to the people of the so-called “Deep-South” states.

Conservatives have been seeking an anti-Romney candidate they could coalesce around and exercise their considerable power at the ballot box.

Conservatives realize a battle has been won – but the war still lies ahead.  

The prevailing attitude among southern conservatives today seems to be: Newt ain’t perfect, but he ain’t Romney, either.

J. D. Longstreet

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