The following is a post election anaylsis by british reporter Toby Harden of the UK Daily Mail. Sometimes it’s fun to see if their prospective is any different from our own. I think he is fairly spot on. Pip Pip, Cheerio!
He titles the article:
THE FIGHT IS ON! NEWT GINGRICH VICTORY IN SOUTH CAROLINA MEANS NO MORE MR. INEVITABLE FOR MITT ROMNEY
What a turnaround! A week ago, it looked like Mitt Romney was going to head into the Florida primary with three victories under his belt. Then it turned out that Rick Santorum won Iowa after all and South Carolina voters backed Newt Gingrich, delivering a message to Romney and the media: ‘Not so fast!’
So, for the first time in Republican history there’s been a three-way split decision between Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Next up, in 10 days’ time, is Florida, where Romney holds a solid double-digit lead and has the money and organisation that should ensure he wins a large state with nine separate television markets.
Of course, Romney’s emphatic 16-point win in New Hampshire and consequent double-digit poll lead here in South Carolina should have delivered him victory tonight so no one in Romneyworld will be taking anything for granted in the Sunshine State.
What did it for Gingrich here? Two very strong debate performances were key. His best moment was his exchange with Juan Williams of Fox in Monday’s Myrtle Beach debate in which he gave full-throated voice to the conservative philosophy of self-help and free enterprise as well as casting aside political correctness and racial tiptoeing.
Then, the much-ballyhooed ABC News interview with his second wife Marianne backfired spectacularly. CNN gave Gingrich a gift by asking him about the ‘open marriage’ allegation right at the start of Thursday’s debate in Charleston. Savaging the ‘liberal media’ is almost invariably a winner in Republican primaries and Gingrich took full advantage.
More generally, however, South Carolina voters decided they did not want a coronation or to send an unvetted nominee into battle against President Barack Obama, with a billion dollars in campaign funds behind him, in November.
He remains the favourite for the GOP nomination but it is now clear that Romney is no shoo-in. And nor should he be. Obama’s long and bitter primary contest with Hillary Clinton in 2008 ultimately meant that he was battle-tested for the general election. Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee in 2012 needs to be the same.
Romney, uncharacteristically, was vague and halting in the two debates this week and need to turn in a strong performance in Tampa on Monday. In his ‘concession’ speech (I never heard him concede to or congratulate Gingrich) he was fiercely combative, indicating that he will go for Gingrich’s throat in Florida.
Previewing a key line of attack, Romney compared Gingrich to Obama: ‘Our party can’t be led to victory by someone who also has never run a business and never run a state.’
Gingrich still has a mountain to climb. By every measure, he is significantly behind in Florida and one lesson of this race so far is that momentum from one victory matters very little. But tonight has burst the bubble of inevitability in which Romney had been enveloped.
Romney’s opponents have long suspected he has a glass jaw. Now we will see whether he can take a punch, get up off the floor and keep fighting.
George W. Bush recovered from a drubbing in
New Hampshire in 2000 at the hands of John McCain. Barack Obama overcame a stunning defeat at the hands of Clinton in the same state in 2008. Romney now has the chance to prove he is made of similar stuff.
Gingrich, the early December front runner, has already sunk once in the polls under sustained negative attack from Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. He’ll need to brace himself for a Romney onslaught in Florida with every detail of his ethics violations, marital infidelities, House leadership stumbles and activities on behalf of Freddie Mac laid bare for all to see.