For much of the campaign, until this week really, Mitt Romney’s good fortune has been hailed among his chief assets: a feeble collection of rivals, their inability to disparage him effectively, economic conditions playing to his strengths.
But what about Newt Gingrich? Lost amid Gingrich’s jeremiad Thursday night against those who would question his marital choices was what Gingrich registered as his biggest regret of his campaign: “I would skip the opening three months where I hired regular consultants and tried to figure how to be a normal candidate.”
That’s it? Not excoriating Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “social engineering”? Or turning his back on New Hampshire after the Union-Leader buss?
That the former House speaker's regrets boil down to hiring a few consultants, that he’s on the cusp of maybe winning South Carolina after a hellacious pounding—some of his own making—says much about what kind of race it has been, and suggests that perhaps Gingrich is the lucky one after all.
Romney’s camp moved quickly on Friday to tamp down the long-held assumption that South Carolina would crown the former Massachusetts governor the GOP standard-bearer. Now, Romney appears resigned to falling back on what is still a sturdy strategy (See: Obama, Barack, 2008): assiduous courting of down-calendar delegates through a careful and concentrated strategy.
“What I can tell you is, this is a campaign that is gonna go the distance,” Romney said on Friday.
That’s not luck, or if it is, it’s the self-made kind. Expect Romney to trot out more of the self-made talk. Combating the silver-spoon image, he has a strong case to make that he made his own way through hard work. It might be one way for Romney to solve the long-running discomfort he evidently feels about discussing his wealth.
Tomorrow in South Carolina—and, after that, in Florida and perhaps beyond—Romney and Gingrich find out whether it’s better to be lucky or to be good.
NATIONAL JOURNAL'S SOUTH CAROLINA REPORT
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Gingrich Playing the Media He Loves to Hate
Gingrich has been ducking the media today because the image he wants to linger in the minds of voters as they go to the polls Saturday is his soon-to-be-historic takedown of a debate moderator, as National Journal’s Jackie Koszczuk writes — not the one Marianne Gingrich painted of the candidate for ABC.
Sununu Predicts 'Long Slog' for Romney After South Carolina
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu told reporters this morning that the Romney campaign is ready for a "long slog," a possible sign that the Romney campaign is preparing for a South Carolina loss on Saturday, the Huffington Post reports.
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Even if the wake of Gingrich’s surging momentum in South Carolina, the fact remains that Romney is the overwhelming front-runner for the Republican nomination — and Saturday’s primary won't do anything to change that, National Journal’sReid Wilson writes.
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On a conference call with reporters Friday, the Romney camp launched a new attack on Gingrich’s record in Congress, calling the former House speaker the “granddaddy of earmarks."
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