Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Poor Mitt

We're still a long way from the real tests in the GOP race for the nomination for president, but things are definitely heating up, and not in a nice way for presumed front-runner Mitt Romney. Michele Bachman is getting all the ink and electrons, and she's working hard to keep it that way in places Mitt hasn't spent too much time.

The current example is South Carolina, the state with an unbroken record for selecting the ultimate nominee for the GOP. George W. Bush knew that, and unleashed a vile rumor that John McCain's adopted Bangladeshi daughter was in reality McCain's black daughter. It worked: W took the state. Mitt Romney has yet to spend much time or effort there (yet), but Michele Bachman certainly has, and she's winning converts.

Paul West has a timely article in the Los Angeles Times in which he explores Bachman's increasing status in that state and what that might mean for Romney and for the Republican Party.

This state hasn't been wrong yet. Its presidential primary has an unblemished record of picking the eventual GOP nominee, serving as a Southern firewall for national front-runners who've been able to stop insurgent challengers here every time.

But that firewall may be collapsing; a primary that has reliably served the interests of the Republican establishment for decades may do the opposite next year. ...

Yet if Bachmann or another insurgent wins South Carolina — a distinct possibility — it would reaffirm the "tea party" movement's rightward pull on the GOP, with uncertain consequences for the nomination fight and for Republican chances of defeating President Obama.

South Carolina, whose former governor Mark Sanford is best known for his affair with an Argentinian woman, is intrigued by Bachman because she represents something other than the usual "business-as-usual" Republican. She has chosen to feed their belief that government is the problem and the old boys just haven't addressed it. And Bachman has been working the Tea Party angle right from the start, so she has plenty of credibility with the state's conservative base.

Still, as I said up top, it's early. Rick Perry has yet to make up his mind, and if he decides to run, the Texas governor just might split the Tea Party contingent. Mitt might actually start appearing in the state. The GOP stalwarts, worried that an ultraconservative nominee might wind up giving Obama the edge he needs to win that second term, might start flexing their muscles and loosening their cash valves.

Or, which is also a possibility, South Carolina's unblemished record for selecting the ultimate nominee might fall.

Pass the popcorn.



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