Jan. 16, 2012
Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson, Texas, was back on the campaign trail in South Carolina Sunday, picking up a crucial endorsement from Tea Party favorite state Sen. Tom Davis (14th District) at a Paul rally in Myrtle Beach. Days earlier, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint -- although stopping well short of an endorsement -- urged the GOP to listen to Paul’s libertarian ideas.
With former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman dropping out of the race and endorsing Romney, Monday’s Republican debate in Myrtle Beach offers the five remaining GOP candidates -- Paul, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry – a fresh chance to jockey for position in front of a national audience on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, just five days before South Carolina’s “First in the South” primary on Saturday. The debate begins at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. It will be broadcast on FOX News and streamed live via the FOX News website.
According to the Hilton Head Island Packet, the Davis endorsement of Paul is huge:
Many of the top-tier candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have met with Davis privately. … the other GOP hopefuls have said a Davis endorsement could change the race for the nomination.
As of this report, Real Clear Politics aggregate polling for South Carolina has Paul in third place with 15 percent to Santorum’s 14.3 percent. Romney holds the lead with 29.7 percent to Gingrich’s 22 percent.
This will be the first GOP debate since Romney’s involvement in Bain Capital, a Boston-based investment firm, was brought to light by a pro-Gingrich Super PAC in the 28-minute film, “King of Bain: When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” which accuses Romney of “vulture” capitalism and looting small companies. If Romney falters or sputters in his defense of his time at Bain, or gets bogged down in a chest-thumping exchange with Gingrich, look for Paul to be the prime beneficiary.
Although Santorum received the backing of a gathering of evangelical Christians meeting over the weekend at a ranch near Houston, it remains to be seen if that support will translate into Santorum finishing above fourth place in South Carolina. If Paul finishes third in the Palmetto State, ahead of both Santorum and Perry, that could spell doom for both their campaigns and leave them either limping into Florida primary Jan. 31 or getting out before then.
With Paul gaining traction through the Davis endorsement and the favorable words from DeMint, the Myrtle Beach debate represents a chance for Paul to take another major step toward solidifying his position as the only viable alternative to Romney.
Although many Americans are under the impression that of all the GOP candidates, only Romney is capable of beating President Obama, the statistic reality tells a different story. According to RCP data as of Jan. 16, Obama leads Romney 47.3 to 45.5 percent, an edge of 1.8 percentage points. Paul fares better than all the other Republican hopefuls when matched up against Obama, trailing the president by 5.1 percentage points, 47.3 to 42.2. That’s better than Santorum, Gingrich or Perry.
Significantly, it’s also better than eventual 1992 winner Bill Clinton was polling against incumbent George W. Bush in January of that year. At that time, Bush led Clinton 47 to 31 percent.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES:
Sen. DeMint urges Republicans to listen to Ron Paul, The Hill, Jan. 11, 2012
Bain film organizer stands by claims against Romney, FOX News, Jan. 15, 2012
Sen. Tom Davis endorses Ron Paul in GOP race, Hilton Head Island Packet, Jan. 16, 2012
2012 GOP debate schedule, www.2012presidentialelectionnews.com
Poll shows that Clinton is the closest rival to Bush, AP story in The Tuscaloosa News, Jan. 19, 1992
Ron Paul takes game to next level, emerges as serious contender for GOP nomination, Punditty on Allvoices, Jan. 12, 2012
Ron Paul goes to bat for liberty, peace and freedom at rally in S.F., Punditty on Allvoices, Sept. 5, 2010
Ron Paul supporters well-positioned in battle for the soul of the GOP, Punditty on Allvoices, Oct. 9, 2008
GOP nominated the wrong candidate, making Obama the best choice in November, Punditty on Allvoices, Sept. 29, 2008
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